1% better each day: Continuous Self - Improvement
Updated: Mar 4
When it comes to self-improvement we can all be guilty of thinking we need to change the world. That we need to move mountains in as little time as possible. Thinking we have regressed having not realised our elaborate improvement plans overnight. Using excuses not to improve rather than the other way round. Finding ourselves falling time and time again at the first hurdle. Sound familiar?
What if instead of ground breaking self-improvement plans we try getting better by 1% each day?
So often we overlook the benefit of small incremental improvements. We dismiss the 1% better idea because bigger goals are sexier. Achieving lots in a short space of time is far more to shout about than little daily improvements right? It is easy to miss the cumulative result that small incremental benefits have.
In Japan, there is a philosophy which originated in Business known as Kaizen. It means 'change for the better' or 'continuous improvement.' This philosophy focuses on gradual improvement. Small changes add up to make a significant positive impact over time. The compound effect of 1% improvements daily over a year mean you will end up 37 times better than when you started (as seen in image at the top of this blog).
That sounds so simple, what is the catch?
Incremental progress is slow. It takes time to notice and appreciate the benefits because they happen over a longer period. Thus it is easy to dismiss the small improvements as they can seem insignificant in the moment. You commit an hour to working out today but are still unfit. You practice your saxophone four times over the course of the week but can still not keep a tune. You stretch morning and night for 10 minutes but after a week you still cant touch your toes. The frustration caused by the lack of results so often causes us to throw in the towel and revert to our old ways.
It is the same concept when we get 1% worse every day. The progress is slow so it is easy to let bad habits creep in and not address them. Because the results do not show immediately we can let our standards slip. A bad meal today will not affect the scales tomorrow. We make an excuse for that poor decision. But bad habits on a daily basis accumulate too and before we know it we can be facing a bigger mountain to climb. You don't have to climb that mountain alone, why not get in touch we are here to help.
How do I put this into practice?
Don't set out with the intention of making radical changes in every area of your life overnight
Focus on small daily improvements
Break down your goals, then break them down again into small steps
Start now, don't wait for the right time to start because the right time is now
Begin stacking positive habits
Refocus if you have a bad day, remember we are in this for the long haul, so get back up on that horse
Want to start exercising? Get out for a 5 minute walk first thing in the morning, add 5 minutes each day; start with one push-up today and one more tomorrow.
Want to lose weight? Start keeping a food diary; cut out one bad food a day.
Want to learn a new language? Learn one new verb a day; listen to music in that language for 5 minutes a day.
Trust in the process
One thing to remember is that a little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing. It can be helpful to keep an activity tracker that you can complete each day to track your progress. A very simple check list will do and will help keep you accountable, alternatively get in contact for more support. Remember that most people over estimate what they can do in a week and under estimate what they can do in a month.
A simple example of what a checklist could look like. Notice the total score at the end of each day which can help you celebrate progress.
A final message: The Tortoise and the Hare - a metaphor for life
I am sure most of us have heard the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. The message in this story supports the idea above with the notion that 'slow and steady wins the race.' Go steady, focus on the process, don't give up on the race and success will happen. Embrace the process, start now and enjoy the ride.
Continuous improvement does not have a destination, it is a life-long pursuit.
Get in touch, we would love to help you take that step towards becoming a happier you.