I read an article years ago that a made point that’s stuck with me: One is infinitely more than zero. The difference between two and three, of anything, is only one. The difference between zero and one is also one. But if you’re talking about life instead of abstract numbers, the difference between zero and one is the difference between none and some.
One is infinitely more than zero. The difference between zero and one is the difference between none and some.
The reason I find this a useful idea is that as I wander through life I find I have a long list of things I’d like to get done or do regularly but can’t quite muster the commitment, time, or energy to stick to. When I read that one is infinitely more than zero, I realized that doing something once was infinitely more than not doing it at all.
If you do something once, you’ve done it.
Exercise is a simple example. Before I would think, hey, I should really exercise. But often I wouldn’t, because I didn’t have the energy, or the time, or the equipment. But if I can do one rep of one exercise, I’ve exercised today. That’s the lowest threshold at which I can say that. I did a workout, however shitty.
You can improve on shitty. If you think about it, all you need to improve on a workout that consists of a single rep of a single exercise is… a single rep of a single exercise. Or even one small improvement to the way you did the single rep that comprised your shitty workout.
You can improve on shitty.
It’s the lowest you can make the threshold and still say you’ve made some improvement. Monday, one squat, fairly shitty. Tuesday, one squat, deeper, slightly less shitty. Some improvement.
Call your mother once, jog around the block once, invest 10% of your income for one paycheck, make yourself one salad. Then maybe do it once again. Or do something else once. At least once.
Here’s the cool part. A lot of the things that you don’t do because you don’t have the energy aren’t as hard to keep doing as they are to start.
If you decide you’re going to wash one dish, for example, by the time you do, you’ve already walked to the sink, grabbed a dirty dish, turned on the water, gotten a sponge and your hands wet and soapy, and placed the dish someplace to dry. It’s pretty easy at that point to wash an extra fork. And maybe a butter knife.
If you shovel one shovelful of snow, you’ve already gotten outside, grabbed a shovel, selected a place to begin, and dug in. Doing a second shovelful isn’t such a big deal at that point.
So do something good, once. Whatever you need in life, some is the shortest step you can take toward enough.