This article demonstrates 5 simple ways to implement the concept of getting 1% better every day.
One day Dave Brailsford was appointed as a new performance director for the British Cycling team in 2003. Since 1908 the British team had been performing poorly, not able to win even 1 gold medal in the Olympics.
Further, the British cycling team could not win the Tour de France in the last 110 years. Due to this underperformance, top bike manufacturing companies refused to sell their bikes, afraid their performance might affect company sales and reputation.
To remedy this situation, Brailsford broke down the entire process of cyclists from manufacturing till the practice session and improved it by 1%. He believed that being 1% better every day would lead to substantial improvement when put together.
He worked hard on making small, nominal changes like redesigning bikes for comfort, rubbing alcohol for a solid grip, biofeedback monitors to measure response to new workouts, etc.
He even tested the fabrics to ensure lightness and aero dynamicity of the material that helped maintain ideal muscle temperature.
Making 1% improvement in small and overlooked areas bought results. The British cycling team broke record after record by winning various Olympic gold medals and Tour de France for the next 10 years.
Why is getting 1% better every day important?
The British cycling team used the power of aggregate gains. Our life doesn’t change from big goals; it changes through small actions that are repeated continuously.
Here, the concept of getting 1% better every day comes into practice. Being 1% better in any area will lead to you being 37.78 times better within a year. Similarly, 1% worse will lead to a 0.03 times decline.
Ice in the room doesn’t melt because of a one-degree change. It is the continuous temperature drop that liquifies the ice. It is an effect of combined results. Similarly, an atomic habit will lead to significant changes over time.
5 ways to become 1% better every day
1. Start with small
To get 1% better every day, it is essential to consistently follow through with the habits or behavior. People judge the action by capacity and not consistency.
When we start something new, we have overwhelming goals. Like when joining a gym, you have the overwhelming goal of being the person who can lift the heaviest weight or building 6 pack abs or similar tasks.
Lifting heavy weights as soon as you start can lead to exhaustion, loss of interest, injuries, and sprains. Gym trainers know that, so they tell you to start with light weights.
Once you get accustomed, the trainer goes on increasing the weight. To become a bodybuilder, regular gyming is very important for such results.
Big giant goals can inspire and motivate you, but achieving those goals needs consistency and regular practice.
Every day making 1000 sales calls can be inspiring but also practically draining. But making 10 sales calls every day is way within our capacity. Ensure you keep your focus on quality and not quantity.
2. Deliberate practice
Anders Ericsson, in the 1970s, conducted an experiment with Steve, a college student, about remembering numbers. The research said that an average human brain can only store 7-8 random numbers or things at a time.
Ericsson would say random numbers that Steve had to remember in a one-hour session. After 4 such sessions, Steve recalled 7 or 8 digits while struggling with 9th and didn’t remember the 10th at all.
After the 5th session, he successfully remembered 11 digits. This was a 57% improvement of the brain’s remembering power over the average. The shock was after 200 sessions, Steve effortlessly remembered an odd string of 82 random numbers.
This is the true power of deliberate practice. Steve was not given any special training or reward; it was just practiced over time that led to this phenomenon. Ericsson coined this process as deliberate practice.
The steps involved in the deliberate practice are
Set a specific goal that you want to achieve. Like Steve had the purpose of remembering numbers. It can be becoming fit, reading more, writing more, etc.
Now, as Steve completely immersed himself in ultra focus state for 1 hour in each session, you too immerse yourself in doing things that would allow you to follow your dream.
It includes going to the gym to remain fit, reading for 1 hour to become knowledgeable, or writing a journal to inculcate a writing streak.
Steve got immediate feedback about how many digits he could remember, encouraging him to try harder. While following through habits, try to get feedback from others. It motivates us to move forward.
Now result-oriented feedback is a long-term process that you get after some time. But you can track everyday progress. Like the number of push-ups, pages read or written.
Now comes the frequent discomfort phase to become 1% better every day. You have discovered the number of push-ups you do or pages you read every day.
Now you have to discomfort yourself and increase the number slowly. Like if you were doing 10 push-ups, go for 12. If reading 10 pages were enough, discomfort yourself with 12. This is the secret to increased brain power in Steve. The experiment slowly but steadily helped him remember 82 random digits.
3. Power of compounding
The 1st tip says to start with small actions but keep it consistent with leveraging the power of compounding. There are 2 friends, John and Shawn, who earn $1,000 every month.
John saves a sum of $100 every month, while the remaining amount he spends on things he needs or wants. Shawn spends all the money buying things he actually doesn’t want and saves nothing.
John is $1200 richer than Shawn without working any extra at the end of the year. This is the power of compounding. It starts small, but the resultant accumulation is very powerful. This is the theme behind getting 1% better every day.
If you want to start reading a book, make a habit of reading at least 2 pages every day, and soon you will complete the book.
If you want to play the guitar, at least play it for 10 minutes every day. Soon you will be an avid reader, a skilled guitarist, a talented salesman with the help of small atomic habits and the right compounding.
4. Make good habits and leave bad ones
Our life is a representation of our habits. Good habits like waking early, being focused, working on fitness will ensure a good life. Bad habits like procrastination, mindless social media surfing, and lack of productivity will deteriorate your life.
Being 1% better every day can change your life for good. But being 1% worse every day can ruin your life.
Making good habits can be unenjoyable in the short term, but their long-term returns are advantageous. While bad habits are enjoyable for the short term, their long-term effects are disastrous.
Getting at 5 am and working on building skills can be bothersome, but it will help increase your productivity in the future. Similarly, being lazy and sleeping till 9 can be enjoyable, but it will lead to a decline in productivity in the future.
4 laws of behavior change explain the science behind why good habits are difficult to make and bad habits are easy to follow. It also states remedies to create good habits and break bad ones.
5. Don’t miss out
To be 1% better every day, ensure you don’t miss out on being consistent. A habit requires 66 days to reach the automaticity point where the habit becomes automated. But for that, you have to be consistent for 66 days without fail.
Improvement is a lifelong process that can’t happen in one day. Building any habit has a fair share of ups and downs.
No matter how consistent you are, life is bound to put obstacles in the way. Missing out once can be an obligation, but missing out twice starts a new cycle of missing out.
If you miss your workout today, ensure that you will go to the gym tomorrow. No one is perfect. Maybe you crave pizza. Eat it in moderation, and make sure you follow it up with a workout and a healthy meal for at least 2 days.
Everyone has a stream of bad experiences, bad workouts, a bad day at work. The contrast between winner and loser is that winners rebound quickly while losers fail to do so.
There would be days you would feel like quitting the consistency of habit. But you have to persist because bad workouts often help us win many matches.
In conclusion, getting 1% better every day is a subjective term. The ideology of being better and how much to become better depends on every individual. Running 5 miles can be exhausting for someone, while running 20 miles may also not be sufficient for another. The key here is to know your capabilities and then play on them. If you feel refreshed and fit running 5 miles, maybe it is time to take it a notch up and run 6 miles.
Here are some tips to become 1% better every day
- Going to bed early
- Trying to cut the junk and replace it with fruits just once a week
- Reducing the sugar and salt intake in your lunch
- Drinking more water
- Exercising every day, even for a short time
- If going to the gym is not possible, at least do push-ups at home
- Save a small part of your compensation for emergencies every month
- Put another small sum of your salary to cover your debts every month
- Start learning and slowly invest in the passive source of income
For overall development
- Start reading 10 pages of good self-improvement books
- Ensure a healthy morning routine and wake up early
- Recite 2 things you are grateful for in life every day
- Write at least 5 lines in your journal to inculcate writing habit