In the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, he says that your goals don’t matter. Why? Because winners and losers have the same goals. What separates the winners from the losers is that winners have a system in place to get better over time. This usually includes making time to create new habits, overcoming the lack of motivation and will power, creating a perfect environment for positive change, and how to get back on track if you do fail, also called “Never miss twice.”
The most important step for me is to create the perfect environment for positive change. This means that everything you do should make it easy for you to keep up with your new, good habits and hard to keep up with your bad habits that you want to eliminate from your life. If you are writing a book, you should have your laptop with you. If you are making a video, you should have your camera with you. If you are trying to go to the gym, you should have your shoes and your clothes ready. That way you will never have an excuse that you don’t want to do it. The longer you wait, the more excuses your brain will come up with not to do it.
What does this have to do with getting one percent better? It’s much easier to improve by one percent than to make any drastic changes in your life overnight, which almost no one can do. If you improve by one percent every day, you can improve by 37 times in one year. However, if you get worse one percent every day, you will be back at zero and will have to start all over.
At the time when I was reading “Atomic Habits,” my business was losing thousands of dollars, and I did not think I could turn it around. I went to the bank and asked to extend my line of credit, and I was denied. I was able to get enough money from a private lender, but it was at a high interest rate.
At first I was looking to make drastic changes, but that would have been a mistake. I decided to go the one percent improvement route instead. I improved advertising performance by a small percentage every day. I looked at all the software and services that we were using and found the ones we could cancel or switch to less costly alternatives. I looked at how much we were paying our subcontractors. I started working on a new product. All these changes added up. It’s sometimes called aggregation of marginal gains.
What did I learn from this? Consistency matters more than how big the changes are. If you make small, one percent changes every day, you will also see results just like I did. But is one percent the best you can do? Why not two percent? Or five? One percent is the minimum. If you can consistently improve by one percent, try to do better. Ask yourself if it’s the best you can do. And then do better.