If you’ve ever doubted that improving an area of your life by 1 percent would make a difference, think again. Keep reading for three reasons why 1 percent is statistically enough to change a habit, life, relationship, or business… and examples of incremental changes you can start today.
Why Incremental Changes Are So Powerful
1% Means a Different Destination
In Atomic Habits, a personal development book on the power of behavior change, James Clear describes how pilots are so precise about their flight path, that even a 1 percent change would have massive repercussions.
As a passenger, you wouldn’t notice if a pilot adjusted the flight path by 1 percent. But over a few hours, that 1 percent change would put the plane in a completely different city.
1 percent is enough to make a difference.
1% Means a Different Performance
In Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins describes a basketball team where the coaches set out to help the players make a 1 percent improvement in the five core areas of basketball. The coaches had calculated that if every player made just 1 percent of an improvement — which hardly SOUNDS like anything —that would lead to a 60 percent improvement for the entire team.
After each player focused on their 1 percent gains, the coaches measured their improvements and determined that each player actually improved by 5 to 50 percent.
The team had an amazing season. All because of each player focusing on the extra 1 percent they could bring to the table.
1% Means Continuous Improvement
The Japanese have a word for improving by 1 percent. It’s called Kaizen, and it means “continuous improvement.”
1% Means Biological Changes
From a biological perspective, 1 percent is a physical change you could measure. Every time you choose a new behavior or thought, your brain grows neural strands and connections reflecting this change. How cool is that if you really think about it?
Just by choosing to do something different ONE time, by actively making a new choice, your physical body reflects this change. Your brain is different as a result. The more you make that same choice over and over again, the more neural strands you develop, leading to strong pathways that eventually become your default.
But it all starts with a single neural strand. A single 1 percent.
Ideas for your 1% Incremental Changes
What does Kaizen mean to you? Here are a few ideas to implement minute, 1 percent changes in your life, now that you know how much they can actually add up!
If you’re used to walking 5,000 steps per day, 1 percent more would be an extra 50.
- If you’re used to walking 10,000 steps per day, aim for 100 more.
- Drink an extra glass of water.
- Work out during commercial breaks.
- Read 10 pages of a business or self-development book each day.
- Take a 5 or 10-minute walk in fresh air each day.
- Give one compliment to a partner or loved one each day.
- Listen to one podcast per week.
- Learn from one YouTube video per week.
- Practice 5 minutes of a language app per day.
- Tip 1 percent extra at dinner or on coffee.
- Do an extra push up each day.
Those are just a few ideas for incremental changes in various categories!
What’s a 1-percent improvement you want to commit to?
The beauty of 1 percent is it doesn’t FEEL like a big commitment, so you’re more likely to do it and stick with it. But over time, those granular improvements can add up to a better destination, a better relationship, a better life.
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