Do you want to know the real secret to accomplishing all those lofty goals you daydream about? Ya know, those goals like paying off your debt, saving $1 million, starting your own business, or traveling the world full-time?
The secret is consistency.
It’s not winning the lottery or making some earth-shattering change in the way you live your life. It’s about taking one small action every single day that moves you one step closer to where you want to be. This concept is called continuous improvement — and it’s all about focusing on becoming 1% better every day.
What Hollywood teaches us about becoming 1% better
We see the idea of becoming “1% better” played out all the time in Hollywood — especially in movie montages.
You know what I’m talking about…
We see Rocky Balboa running through the streets of Philadelphia, punching meat in a cooler until he’s the best boxer around. We see Mulan climbing a wooden pole, shooting arrows, and running buckets of water up a mountain until she’s the best soldier in the army. Then there's the Karate Kid waxing on and waxing off until he annihilates all the bullies at school.
It usually takes the main character months (or years) to accomplish their goals, but Hollywood speeds through these scenes in a matter of minutes because they're kind of boring to watch.
But truthfully, these montages are where the magic happens. They’re where the main character focuses on getting 1% better every day until time fast forwards and they’re mega-successful. It’s where they learn to master the mundane.
What does it mean to be 1% better?
Becoming 1% better every day means focusing on the one tiny action you can take today to get one step closer to where you want to be tomorrow. It means sticking with these tiny actions, day in and day out (even when you don’t feel like they’re working) because you know they’ll compound into something significant.
Instead of focusing on a huge, overarching goal that seems impossible to reach, you focus on your everyday habits instead. You save a few bucks toward your rainy day fund here, pay a little extra on your credit cards there, and go for a short walk there until all those tiny actions add up.
This process isn’t sexy, nor is it newsworthy. But it works and it also helps to improve your self discipline.
The life-changing magic of getting 1% better everyday
Getting 1% better is really hard to quantify in the beginning. You start by being 1% better at something today than you were yesterday. Then, tomorrow, you’re up to 2%. By the next day, you’re up to 3%. One week later, you’re at 7%. It's not much, but it compounds into something substantial over time.
Here's some math to show what I mean.
Following the rules of compound interest, if you focus on becoming 1% better every day, at the end of one year, you’d be approximately 37.78 times better than you were before (1.01365=37.78).
That's 37 times better at managing your finances, running that side hustle, asking for that raise, or any other goal you're trying to reach.
Pretty powerful, right?
What does becoming 1% better everyday look like?
Here are some examples of what becoming 1% better every day may look like for your finances, your health, and your overall life.
For your finances
- Taking a few dollars out of every paycheck and putting it savings
- Throwing an extra $20 toward your debt when you have it
- Reading 10 pages of a personal finance book every day
- Signing up for a free financial education course
For your health
- Going out to eat one less time than you did last week
- Exercising 30 minutes a day
- Eating a little less processed sugar than you did last week
- Drinking a little more water
- Getting a good night’s sleep (at least 7 to 8 hours)
For your life and overall productivity
- Writing down something you’re grateful for every morning
- Creating a morning routine for your finances
- Decluttering your life
- Turning off notifications for your email, social media, and text messages
- Setting aside five minutes a day to connect with someone you love
How to become 1% better everyday
Now that you have some examples of what becoming 1% better every day looks like, let’s talk about how you can start implementing this practice into your own life.
1. Define what “better” means for you
“Better” looks different for everyone. My idea of “better” is to be financially independent, to own a thriving business where I have the freedom to work when and where I want, to hike 15 miles in a single day without feeling like I’m going to die from soreness the next week, and to have a close circle of friends I can laugh and grow with.
What does “better” look like for you? Take a moment to do some goal setting. Dream about your ideal life by answering these questions:
- How much money do you have in the bank?
- Where do you work?
- How do you spend your free time?
- How do you feel?
2. Examine your old habits
Once you’ve defined what “better” means for you, it’s time to examine your habits to figure out what’s working and what’s not.
Remember, getting 1% better is mundane. It requires you to take small actions every day that are really easy to do, BUT are also really easy not to do.
For example, putting $20 in savings is easy to do. But it’s also easy to spend an extra $20 at the store. Reading 10 pages of a personal finance book every morning is easy to do. But it’s also easy to fill that time with a TV show.
Setting aside five minutes to journal about what you’re grateful for is easy to do. But it’s also easy to spend that time on Instagram.
Examine your habits and pinpoint which tiny tweaks you can make to move the needle toward your goals.
3. Be patient and trust the process!
As you begin focusing on getting 1% better every day, you may not feel like you’re making any real progress. One day you’ll be super excited about working toward your goals — whether that’s paying off debt or learning a second language. And the next day you may wake up and say, “What’s even the point?”
But the key to becoming 1% better relies on you sticking with those tiny actions even when you don’t feel like doing them. It relies on you trusting that your actions are quietly gaining momentum and that success is bubbling right beneath the surface.
Remember, magic happens in the mundane
The beautiful thing about achieving success is that you don’t get there by trying twice as hard or making some sweeping change in your life. You just focus on being 1% better today than you were yesterday.
In just a year’s time, you’ll be 37 times more knowledgeable, 37 times more financially secure, and 37 times closer to your dream life than you were before! How about that?