The Origin of the “More Than Nothing” Mentality

“I think people prefer to believe they need to overhaul their entire life in order to see improvement. Because if they believe it’s not possible, they can’t be held responsible for doing nothing.” 

Growing up I found myself trying to do everything.

In middle school I participated in musicals, plays, dance classes, etc. all while maintaining good grades. 

In high school I was involved in student council, choir, cheerleading, etc. all while working my first job after school.

In college I woke up at 5am to go teach a 6am spin class, then went to classes studying interior design, and then went and worked my job until midnight. 

After college I found CrossFit, opened a CrossFit gym and ran that during the week, joined the seminar staff and started traveling every weekend, and trained to be a competitive Crossfit athlete. 

I had this mentality that I truly could do it all, and there really wasn’t anyone to tell me otherwise, because I was crushing it and had been crushing it for several years now. I was doing it all and doing it well. 

Then Life Happened

This is the part of the story you’re familiar with or eventually will be familiar with, because this series of events happens to every single one of us at some point. Whether you get sick, injured, have to move across the country, etc. there is always some life event that takes you off your feet and throws you off your ideal course. 

In 2011 I had my first real setback after I was taken to the hospital and underwent surgery to have my appendix removed. A few days before that I just assumed I had a tight muscle and a few days later I could no longer train the way I wanted to. It was an instant shift and something I’d never experienced before. 

This next part is crucial as this is where most people fall off the wagon and eventually quit. I didn’t want to quit so I stopped thinking about what I couldn’t do and started doing whatever I could, even if it was barely more than nothing. At that time it looked like putting a sled around my waist and walking around the parking lot. It looked like a lot of slow, bodyweight exercises. It wasn’t ideal but it kept me moving. 

In 2012 I got hit with another setback after getting in a car wreck and breaking my neck in two places as well as my hand. Now I only had one hand to work with and had my C2 and C3 vertebrae fused. I found myself back in the same position as before, not being able to train the way I wanted to but also not willing to quit. I had to learn how to keep moving and not let myself go into this spiral where I sat around feeling bad for myself and upset that I couldn’t do what I wanted or what I was used to doing.

I had a few more small injuries along the way but where the “more than nothing” mentality really started to grow in size was when I was pregnant with my first child, Knox. At the time of finding out that I was pregnant, Julian and I were in a really dark place in our relationship, I had just started my business, we had just moved in together, my body was growing a baby, and there were a lot of personal challenges we were trying to work through together. 

The love I had for Julian, fitness, and my business is what kept me going through that time but it was barely stronger than the pull to do absolutely NOTHING. “More than nothing” was no longer just about pulling a sled through the parking lot when I was injured. It was:

  • Simply staying in my relationship and not leaving
  • Just giving Julian a kiss goodnight 
  • Spending 5 more minutes answering emails
  • Sitting on an assault bike while I cried for 10 minutes (which happened multiple times)

I just kept showing up. I kept doing more than nothing. 

Grand Gestures Starve Lasting Change

If you’re a real human being with a real life, you cannot do it all, all of the time. 

  • Maybe you’re a working mom who wants to take better care of your health but finding the time to do what the fitness industry tells you needs to be done seems impossible. You don’t have access to all the equipment, can’t afford hundreds of dollars in supplements, and there’s no way you can find 2 hours in the day to do this. So you do nothing. 
  • Maybe you’re a deployed service member who has dreams of starting an apparel company on the side. But right now you’re stuck being deployed overseas in the middle of the desert. How are you supposed to start your new business when the internet connection sucks and you can’t send emails back and forth the way you think you need to? It’s not possible right now. So you do nothing. 
  • Maybe you want to be a better human being. You see all of these philanthropists traveling to Africa to go build schools or install water filtration systems for entire villages. You want to do it but there’s no way you’d ever be able to request that much time off from work, you don’t have the extra cash for that kind of trip, and you don’t have the time to organize a fundraiser. So you do nothing. 

We have this idea that change or improvement requires a complete overhaul in our lifestyle. We look at what we want and think that it will take an endless amount of time and/or money to accomplish. We have convinced ourselves that change has to come in the form of a grand gesture. 

Grand gestures starve change. 

But doing something? Something more than nothing? That’s the ticket to improvement.

  • What if that working mom just found 10 minutes a day/4x a week and did some bodyweight exercises in her bedroom? What if 2 weeks later she stopped drinking soda and added one vegetable into her daily routine all while maintaining her 10 minute workouts/4x a week? She most likely wouldn’t feel like doing those simple tasks would be enough, but I know that if she maintained that routine for 12 months, it would in fact be enough, especially if she was doing nothing before
  • What if the deployed soldier used his deployment time to read some books on how to properly set up his business? What if he listened to some podcasts and learned from another successful business who could give him a blueprint for what steps he needs to take? If he took the time to educate himself while on deployment, he could hit the ground running when he got home
  • What if the person who wanted to be a better human took some of their kids toys every year during Christmas and donated them to a child who didn’t have any? What if they drove up to the drive through window and told the cashier they’d like to pay for the coffee of the car behind them? What if the person in that car behind them was in a lot of pain feeling like no one cared about them, rolled up to the drive through and found out that someone else had just paid for their coffee?

Consistency is Harder Than Over the Top Gestures

You know why we like over the top gestures? Because they’re quick and short lived. They’re exciting and built upon feelings of momentum. We latch onto these 30 day cleanses and over the top diets because we imagine ourselves changing overnight -- but I think on top of that, somewhere during the “grand gesture” process, we realize that what we’re doing is unrealistic and unsustainable. We know that we won’t be able to maintain that new lifestyle so we say to ourselves, “This just isn’t for me. I guess the way I am is just how it has to be.”

I think people prefer to believe they need to overhaul their entire life to see improvement -- because if they believe it isn’t possible -- they can’t be held responsible for doing nothing.

In the real world it’s not radical changes or grand gestures that lead to lasting change. 

It’s consistency. 

Those 10 minutes of exercise at the foot of your bed/4x per week, ditching the soda, and adding one veggie into your meal everyday for 12 months -- that is what leads to change.

The problem is consistency is harder than doing something over the top for a short period of time and that’s why so few people reap the benefits of just being consistent. 

Listen...I get it. 3 years ago if you told me that I could workout at home for 45 mins or less/5x per week and maintain my level of expected fitness, I wouldn’t have believed you. I myself have had to learn this lesson at the same exact time as the Street Parking members. We’ve had to do it together and silence those voices in our heads that have told us that this isn’t enough. 

But we’re doing it because it works. 

More than nothing is more than enough and you can do it too.

It’s time to flip the switch and stop blaming someone or something else and learn to take ALL of the responsibility upon yourself. 

Do more than nothing, because more than nothing is enough. 

-Miranda Alcaraz (@fearlessmiranda)