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Zero-Based Thinking

What is Zero-based thinking? It’s a creative thinking exercise used to solve problems. It was developed by financial experts to analyze how business could improve its performance. It’s not so much what it’s called as what it can do for you.

Zero-based thinking asks the question: Knowing what I now know, would I make the same decision? If I had a “do-over,” would I do it the same way?

When do you use it? When you’re stressed; when you’re dissatisfied with your results.

Knowing what I now know, would I make the same decision? If your answer is YES, then keep doing the same thing.

If your answer is NO, there are 4 options: Do more of it. Do less of it. Stop doing it altogether. Do something completely different.

Zero-based thinking can be used on: people, processes, products, services, strategies, time spent—anything you care about; anything that affects your life.

Examples: Knowing what I now know, would I hire her again? Knowing what I now know, do I continue to offer this service? Knowing what I now know, what will I change moving forward?

The question helps you validate what’s working, helps you make necessary adjustments, and stops you from second-guessing yourself (a major cause of stress).

So next time you’re “stressed to the max” ask yourself: Knowing what I now know, would I make the same decision? If the answer is NO, determine what you’re going to do, and how fast you’re going do it!

[What follows is a variation on the same theme]

No Do-Overs Allowed!

Ninety-plus-year-olds were asked: If you could live your life over, what would you do differently? Three answers recurred: I would reflect more. I would risk more. I would do more things that would live on after I’m gone. This isn’t a mini-do-over, re-inventing ourselves at 31 or 47. This is all-in, all-over, no do-overs allowed.

It forces reflection, doesn’t it? What risks should I take, right now? What shall I create that will live on after me? No sense waiting for my 90’s to regret what I didn’t do because I chose not to when I was younger and abler!

Thank you, anonymous 90-somethings, for sharing your life-wisdom. The Roman scholar, Cato, in response to the question: Why would you start learning Greek at the age of 80? replied: It’s the earliest age I have left. Hey! This is the earliest age I have left…to do anything. Heck, this is “the earliest age” any of us has left…to do anything.

If you could live your life over, what would you do differently? What would I do differently? What should I risk, starting now? What will I leave behind that’s meaningful? And…What will I regret not having done, looking back? Before you answer, remember—this is the earliest age any of us has left.

If you could live your life over, what would you do differently? Let’s answer it now and have no regrets when we’re the ninety-somethings they’re interviewing.

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