One Percent Better
Today I will get one percent better at X. Tomorrow I will get one percent better at X…After N tomorrows (where N = 72) I will have doubled my performance in X. The things we learn, much like our bank and 401k accounts, can take advantage of compound interest. James Altucher has a process where he improves by one percent every day. After reading Altucher’s post, I thought about all of the times when I was at peak productivity. The times when learning felt easy or when code was just flowing through my fingers into the text editor. All of these times were the product of sustained effort spanning many consecutive days. Small impacts over time build into huge returns in the long run.
Whenever I’m at a loss for what to reseach or what to learn next, I ask myself a simple question: What will make me one percent better at X? Once I find this I get to figuring it out. Often through finding what will take me through the next percent will also uncover what will take me through the next ten percent or more. That’s the thing about knowledge, and pretty much growth of any kind, getting a little bit opens up the door to a whole lot more. Given enough time, one percent explodes into ten and ten explodes one hundred and on and on.
We can apply the idea of getting one percent better to any facet of life. Through eating right, exercising, sleeping enough, and countless other healthy behaviors, I can get one percent healthier every day for the rest of my life. I could pick any subject in the world, read a little bit about it, think about what I read, and after twenty minutes or so I’ve moved forward on the topic. There’s so much power in the idea of committing to getting better.
Just like we can take advantage of compounding for improvement, our skills can also stagnate or regress quickly through the same compounding effect. Every day we don’t improve breaks the momentum. Abilities are forgotten, lost through disuse. Do whatever it takes to avoid the back turn. Focus on the path forward and log the progress each day. Use the habit chain method that Jerry Seinfeld used to become one the top comedians of all time. Anything that helps create an atomosphere of continuous improvement is worth trying. Overtime the process will feel natural and a habit will be formed.
I’m now officially a month into the Dev-eryday experiment. I will keep on building my skills to get at least one percent better every day. The one percent is a realistic target. Sometimes improvement will come quicker, and other times slower. Regardless, improvement will come. Improving every day is the whole spirit of this challenge and I’m continuously improving. World renowned abilities are not built in a matter of days. Every step forward is one step closer to the goal.