Change That Sticks (1% Better for A Whole Year)


By Pete Kadushin, O2X Mental Performance Specialist, PhD, CMPC

Consistency is King

Why is “1% Better Every Day” such a powerful strategy? Just like the money in your bank account, the hard work you do today is going to compound with the hard work you did yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. After putting in the work for a whole week, or month, or year of making little changes, you’ll be SIGNIFICANTLY better. Consistency really is king.

Last month we broke down why this type of long-term change is so hard. Some key culprits that push people into putting off plans to change until “next year” or abandoning them altogether are: expectations that aren’t in line with reality, the lack of clarity around the what and how of your goals, or the lack of adaptability.

There was also some good news last month. When you get clear on your why, focusing on the process, and building support and accountability into your plan for change, you can give yourself a head start when it comes to being successful over the long term.

This month, we’re going to zoom in on what happens once the ball starts rolling. Specifically, the potholes we might hit along the path and what to do to keep the momentum going.

What Happens If…

Why focus on what can go wrong? It’s simple. If you fail to prepare then you’ve prepared to fail. It’s time to plan ahead so you can make change that sticks for a whole year (and then some).

I Miss A Day

The hardest part about keeping change consistent is our human desire to boil everything down to one of two categories:

Good/Bad, Success/Failure, On/Off. 

The temptation when we miss a workout or have a day that’s “off menu” is to immediately label our attempt at change a failure. All that does is make it easier to skip tomorrow, and eventually you decide to just try again next month, or next year. 

On the path of meaningful change, there are days where life is going to kick you in the teeth, and for whatever reason, your meditation, or journaling, or walking the dog is going to get pushed off the back burner entirely. 

On days like this, getting 1% Better may mean learning from what happened and re-engaging as soon as possible. 

Don’t wait until next week. Don’t wait until next year. Don’t wait until the moon and Saturn are aligned again. The simple (and not easy) answer is to get back after it tomorrow. In this way, we loosen the grip our mind has on labeling us as “winning/losing,” and we can look at our off days as just another step along the path towards long lasting change.

I Get Bored

Once you’ve gotten into a groove with your new habit, it may start to feel easy! Instead of having to drag yourself out of bed to prep your meals for the day (or walk the dog, or get a quick workout in), you find that it’s become a part of your routine. This is great news; now you won’t have to spend a ton of willpower each day – you’ve got momentum on your side!

The flip side of the coin is that it can start to get boring, and if it’s boring, it’s easy to lose interest. As you get months into your change, the same food, the same route on your walk, and the same workout can start to get stale.

What can you do about it? Use the power of your friends, colleagues, and the interwebs. Connect with a coach or trainer. However you do it, you need to add variety and challenge to keep yourself engaged. Change up your workout routine, your route, or your meal plan. 

Make it a little harder so you can keep improving rather than camping out in your comfort zone. 

These little tweaks keep us on our toes and plugged into our behavior change as we start to get comfortable with the habits we’ve built.

I Run Out of Motivation

A quick reality check. This is going to happen. Over the course of a year, there are going to be days where you don’t want to make your change happen. Let’s start with that fact and understand that it’s no big deal. By acknowledging that up front, you’re freed up to use a few strategies to help keep you rolling.

First – a power outage is usually a sign that you need to adjust your rewards. Last month we pointed out that your evolution is designed to build habits, and if we use small, meaningful rewards each day, we can groove our habits faster. If you’re running short on motivation, it may mean that you need to switch up the reward to get you back in the driver’s seat.

Second – reconnect with your why. Our mind is like a jungle… if we don’t connect with a thought or a feeling often, the path starts to grow over, and it gets harder to connect with it on a regular basis. If you haven’t spent time considering why you started in the first place, it’s time to revisit your why. Spend some time thinking and writing about what’s changed for you… 

Do you feel better? Move better? Is work time and family time better?

Lastly – you need a backup generator! Sometimes our “why” isn’t enough. Take the time to identify other reasons you have for making your change. Building this motivational flexibility is often the little change that can keep you going when your main motivation takes the day off.

The big picture point here is that life happens. Your 1% Better isn’t going to look the same every day, and if you can grow and improve by understanding your “off” days, you’ll be able to maintain your momentum and make consistent progress.

Can you get 1% Better every day for a year? With a little planning and consistent effort, the answer is YES. If you haven’t started, there’s no day like today!