What if achieving success was more about setting up good habits and less about choosing the right goals?
I went for a walk the other morning at the local park. I had a lot on my mind. You see, the night before I ran across this video on YouTube called How to stop quarantine from ruining your life by Joey Schweitzer.
For some reason I couldn’t stop myself from hitting the replay button each time the video came to a close. I must have watched this over 20 times. It is very timely.
Life has been better to me than most lately. Of this I am grateful. And despite the pandemic, I’ve been feeling comfy in a strange almost stagnant stupor. Let’s call this The Comfort Zone. You know, playing video games late into the night, waking up later and later, and watching YouTube over trying to find a new job or a new client.
And while I felt comfortable and relaxed, I also had this deep undeniable feeling that something was off. I needed new action in my life. I needed to stir things up.
In this video Joey recommends listening to the audio book Atomic Habits by James Clear. Fuck it. I might as well give it a listen. I restarted my Audible subscription and bought the book. I woke up the next morning, that being the morning in question, and began the journey how any new book does, Page 1.
The weather was a good summer day. It’s perfect tank top weather which I took full advantage of. I needed to focus, so I put all my other obligations on hold for a few hours while I digested some of this new material. I have found that the mornings are the best time for me to learn new things and have them stick in my mind, but only if I remove any and all distractions.
Within the first chapter James brought up the first idea that struck a chord with me: 1% better each day to improve your life. Math, hell yeah. This guy is speaking my language.
It’s rather a very simple idea. Want to improve your life? Start spending enough time to 1% getting better each day. Rinse and repeat. This can be 1% better on anything that you fancy: writing, reading, designing, dancing, etc, etc.
Here’s the beauty of taking these small steps. Within a week you’ve improved your skill in the given action by 7%. Within a month, you are 30% better. And, within a year, you are 365% better. That’s 37 times better in a year by spending enough time to get 1% better each day.
Holy shit. 37 times better than when you started. 1% improvement each day. This got me thinking. This got me inspired. I could do that.
Why it might be easy to feel like giving up at times…
If you are like me, you are good about setting goals. More recently I’ve switched to setting 5 year goals, but there always seemed to be something missing. I have barely achieved half of what I’ve set out to do, yet. To say I get frustrated at times would be an understatement. I can be hard on myself.
Maybe you can relate to this.
Sometimes it feels like the first few weeks or even the first few months of working on something new don’t add up to anything. No one acknowledges your dedication. You see little to no results. And, it feels like you might be wasting your time. Actually, it is a waste of time. Or at least, that is the easy mentality that I slip into at times.
It’s during those down times that it’s easy to give up. And it makes sense. Why work at something if you aren’t getting as good as results as others. But maybe results take a while to come in, and comparing to others is a downfall. Our maybe our meter for measuring success is different.
Regardless, it seems to be easier than ever to get discouraged just as it is easier than ever to get inspired. Here’s a theory: the size of our tribes have changed over the last 20 years and with it the standards at which we measure ourselves with.
17 years ago the social structure of the world changed forever with the invention of the first ever social media network. On August 2003 Myspace was released and like a swarm of ants to sugar we consumed this new social construct with a gusto. It spread, well, it spread like a virtual pandemic.
It was fun. It was cool. It was awesome!
Then came the titan Facebook and with it even more and more social networks. I don’t need to list them; you know them all. It seemed with the constant release of more and more social networks, our mentality adapted, shifted.
Now we are just as likely to follow our favorite celebrities in combination with our closest friends and acquaintances. This has resulted in our “perceived tribe” containing the likes of Chris Hemsworth, Dwayne the Rock Johnson, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
All of these people are amazing people that can both inspire as well as cripple us. It’s all about the lens we choose to see the world through on each given day. But inspiration without a combination of dedication and education leads to stagnation, emptiness, and self-contentment.
Insert the 1% improvement each day tool
Maybe we don’t have to take massive leaps to get where want in life. And maybe getting where we want in life should be a practice of being pleased with where we are in this exact moment of time rather than postponing happiness for a distant future that may or may not happen.
Spending enough time each day to get 1% better at something I love is not work, it’s a gift. It’s easy enough to do, and it takes away the burden from trying to get to the top as fast as possible.
Consistent, constant, and compassionate steps forward, each day. Now that is something I can do.
Heck, I might even enjoy the ride along the way. And maybe you will too.
Much love, as always,