Zero Based Thinking

by Dan


Here is a concept that I came across a while back, which I think is very relevant to this blog. Zero Based Thinking is a technique which can be used to powerful effect to simplify your life. Any accountants out there will probably be aware of the concept of Zero Based Budgeting (forecasting for the coming year by re-justifying all spend, line by line, rather than a blanket percentage increase or decrease across the whole cost base). Zero Based Thinking is a derivation of that, which thankfully is a lot easier to understand and execute! Quite simply, in relation to any area of your life, you ask yourself the question:

“Knowing what I now know, would I have gotten into this in the first place?”


“Knowing what I now know, would I make that decision again?”

If the answer to the question is “no”, then it is a signal to try to extricate yourself from that situation, or resolve not to make that decision again. For example, you may have agreed to join the committee of a social group but now find it to be a real drag on your time, giving you little in the way of enjoyment or satisfaction. You may feel obliged to continue out of a sense of loyalty or responsibility. But the harsh reality is, if knowing what you now know you wouldn’t get into it in the first place, you should find a way to politely excuse yourself from the situation and free yourself from the burden. Some situations are easier to get out of than others, but usually the message is clear and requires action.

You can use this in respect of all areas of your life – areas you spend your time, things you spend your money on, relationships, your job, etc. I will be using this extensively over the coming weeks!