When it comes to improving your life, be it in the sense of weight loss, building a business, improving your relationships or increasing your energy and productivity we’re always looking to make additions in the hope of improvements.
Instead of eliminating excess calories we’re eating we opt to add a fat burner pill to our routine.
When we’re constantly running low on energy instead of opting to cut out our negative habit of a mere 4 hours of sleep a night we opt to drink more coffee.
The above 2 scenarios are prime examples of addition proving inferior to subtraction.
Instead of adding, far better results will come via subtraction.
Far better results will come with via negativa.
The Art Of Strategic Subtraction
Next time you’re struggling to make progress towards your goals, regardless of what category they fall under look at what you can subtract first.
As I mentioned above, not only will you often find far greater results from subtraction, but you’ll also have far less in terms of complications and distractions in your life.
These days I’m always very hesitant before adding anything new or drastic to my routine – I do not want to disrupt the laser focus I’ve got going towards a small set of goals.
Minimalism and via negativa allows us to hone in further on what we’re already doing, the traditional ‘add something to fix something’ approach disperses our focus and productivity.
Don’t implement any new habits, purchase any new supplements or add any new activities to your schedule until you’ve looked at what you can subtract.
“SJ, via negativa is great in theory, but what can I ACTUALLY subtract?” – reader
Via Negativa Examples (Here’s What You Should Subtract!)
Struggling to build muscle and strength?
- Remove excessive volume (e.g. don’t perform 30 sets per body part)
- Remove repetitions (lift in the 4 – 6 rep range for your compound movements)
- Remove negative sleeping habits (aim for 6+ hours a night)
- Remove your inconsistent training partner
Fat loss is often a case of subtraction, not addition…
- Remove excessive calories (fat loss is a matter of eating below your total daily energy expenditure)
- Remove snacking
- Remove long, gruelling cardio workouts (short, fast HIIT sessions have been proven superior)
Increase your productivity with subtraction
- Remove any and all paperwork from you desk with the exception of the task you’re working on
- Eliminate uncertainty (have a clear objective)
- Remove any task from your to-do list that takes 5 minutes or less (do these immediately, don’t document them – it’s inefficient)
- Remove any time wasting habits (e.g. fantasy football)