Think You Can’t Keep Going? This One Percent Thing Works

Get overwhelmed much? An occasional meltdown? Mmmm, me too. If overwhelm, stuck-ness or frustration over not doing what you said you would, gets the better of you when you’ve decided to make a change or create a new habit, here’s what to do when you think you just can’t keep going anymore.

Improve by just 1% each day

I first heard about this idea from entrepreneur James Altucher who talks often about the idea that improving by just 1% each day is more than enough to build your confidence and momentum. I then started digging a little more into this idea and discovered a whole body of work dedicated to the potent force of “kaizen”, the Japanese technique of achieving great and lasting success through small, steady 1% improvement steps. Here’s an example of one quick but powerful read: One Small Step can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, 2014.

The idea is that when we stop aiming for perfection and instead commit to an incremental improvement each day, it compounds.

When 1% compounds every day, it doubles every 72 days. This means if you can improve any area of your life by just 1% a day, you’ll be TWICE as good at that thing 72 days from now. Oh, my!

Often it’s the gap between where you are and where you want to be that’s overwhelming.

So instead of focusing on the end point, focus on the little steps you can take to get there:

Compounding tiny excellence is what creates big excellence. You can’t be a master in one day. You have to improve a little every day.
— James Altucher

Remember, the only thing you can change is how you behave today.

Not what happened yesterday and not what may or may not happen tomorrow. So focus on the choices you make today.

Take the smallest step you can.

For example, instead of overhauling your entire diet, can you eat one carrot? One apple? Instead of doing a weekly workout plan, can you go for a 5-minute walk? Do 1 pushup? Then tomorrow you focus on the next tiny step. If this is all you can do, then taking the smallest of steps helps you reaffirm your commitment to yourself and that, my Lovelies, is what makes you happy, builds your confidence and creates momentum.

In the beginning it might feel like there’s no difference between making a choice that is 1% better or 1% worse, but as time goes on, these small improvements or declines compound and you will delight yourself with the real power of small wins and slow gains.

The best part is the 1% Rule can be applied to everything.

As James says,

If I spend 1 less minute feeling regret and use that to feel gratitude, how much better for my stress levels will that be in one year’s time. Stress is 100% reverse correlated with a longer healthier happier life. Every habit can be built using this technique.

The truth is that most of the significant things in life aren't stand-alone events. And we don’t just live once! We live every day we’re lucky enough to be alive on this earth. Life is the sum of ALL the moments we chose to do things 1% better or 1% worse.

Personal growth is part of what makes us humans happy and once again James sums this up brilliantly:

Practice never makes perfect. Practice makes happy. Practice makes habits.