Personal transformation can be challenging. We all have habits we’d like to break and behaviours we’d like to do more of. But when we do some self-examination and think about what is involved in navigating change, it can seem overwhelming to get to where we need to be, whether that is personally or professionally.
That’s where small incremental change can be a powerful tool.
The power of one per cent
Just a tiny shift of something like one per cent, does add up. A compelling example of the power of one per cent incremental change is the story about Sir David Brailsford and the British Cycling Team. The team hadn’t produced a rider able to win the Tour De France in its entire history. Brailsford felt that by improving in achievable one per cent increments in a lot of areas, the team could produce a cyclist who could win the Tour de France in five years.
They made one per cent improvements in obvious areas such as nutrition, bike aerodynamics, weight, and seat comfort as well as in areas others didn’t think about. They located a pillow that provided slightly better sleep and travelled with it and another gain was made through adjustments to sleeping posture. Then, someone found a massage gel that worked marginally more effectively, and so on. These minuscule one per cent gains added up to a win in two and a half years instead of the predicted five years, and the team went on to win six races since 2012.
Why incremental change works
While you may not be gearing up to win the Tour De France, you can apply this powerful method of incremental improvement to your own life, to improve your health, relationships, finances, career, or business.
Too often we convince ourselves that impressive results demand massive action and fail miserably as we have bitten off a lot more than we can chew. However, making tiny adjustments to your life are much easier to manage and much more likely to be sustained than a huge shift.
It’s also common to think of a big win or achievement as a single event but the reality is that it’s generally the result of a series of tiny moments that each propel us one step further toward our goal.
The one per cent rule is so effective, as it can be scaled. The method works because you are making many small tweaks and building on those tweaks as they become habits.
Applying incremental change to transform your life
The starting point is to think of an area of your life you want to improve. Then think of small ways you can tweak your life to achieve that objective. The tweaks obviously don’t have to literally be as tiny as one per cent, but the objective is a series of minor changes, which built upon on a regular basis, really add up.
For example, if you are wanting to improve your health you don’t have to overhaul your lifestyle to reach your health goals, go for small, achievable changes. Try drinking an additional glass of water when you wake up, take some fruit to work to snack on, take the stairs instead of the lift at work, or get off the train one stop early to walk a little further home.
Or if you are wanting to further your career, try spending 10 minutes per day on expanding your network, incorporate some small productivity tweaks into your daily routine like not checking your emails constantly, and commit to self-growth by asking a single question every day to improve your knowledge. Building upon little, easy tasks like these can help you on your path to success.
Reaping the benefits
It is important to build though. One small tweak alone will not make an enormous difference. The challenge is to continue to make one per cent changes, without dropping the changes you’ve already made.
The key to this method, is to be consistent; it takes around 60 days to establish a habit so make sure you hang in there. You might have to even put a pause on adding any more changes to your routine as you adjust at various points along the way but just make sure you persevere to establish the changes you’ve already made.
There is no better time than the present to get started, so make the first micro change to your life today and watch each one per cent improvement add up to success.
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