All you have to do is be 1% better

That’s all we need to do in life, just be 1% better and the 1% can compound into amazing things in the next couple of decades. The 1% better can take many different forms, one of them is just showing up.

Time scales, iteration, and speed

There are different time scales we can discuss here, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and a decade. Each time scale will give an insight into how fast the 1% can compound by just imagining how many different iterations a certain time scale has.

Daily time scale means we are 356 changes of iteration and improvement. But the obvious question do we have room for 356 iterations this year?

The weekly time scale entails 52 iterations per year, which seems much more manageable. It is quite popular to conduct weekly reviews, which can take 5 – 10 minutes and can easily give back a 1% improvement in some areas of our lives.

The monthly time scale is 12 iterations per year which is even more manageable and I would argue probably the most productive time scale. It’s easy to be caught up day to day, week to week, but we can always afford some changes on a monthly basis. The 1% improvement is very manageable at this scale. A monthly review, like the weekly review, only takes 5 – 10 minutes and can easily produce a 1% improvement.

If we take the monthly scale and make adjustments in just 10 years we made 120 adjustments, which is not just 120 changes, each change compounds over the 10-year period which results in orders of magnitude change.

The yearly time scale is probably too slow but better than nothing, we have around 70 iterations on average which is still great compared to standing still.

Consistency vs optimization

1% better can take many shapes and forms, one of the easiest ways to implement the 1% rule is the 2-minute rule. If we are lazy to do something, we can reduce the activity to just two minutes, which is so short it is almost impossible to say no to it. And the key idea here is that 1% better means that if we are about to miss a workout or a writing session, just do it for two minutes to keep the consistency up and the 1% improvement is done. Two minutes is a lot more valuable than zero minutes. Two minutes of pushups is quite something if there is consistency.

And here we can observe an interesting idea that James Clear talks about in the Atomic Habit book. People fall into a trap of premature optimization, which diet to follow, which workout plan is the best, and how to do x thing in the most efficient way possible. And that is the trap, we can’t optimize something that does not exist, if we are not consistent we are not doing the x activity anyways, what is there to optimize? Optimization comes, only and only after we establish consistency. Be regular in the gym first then, after 6 months, start exploring what would be the best way to optimize a gym session.