In the words of Buster Moon from the animated movie “Sing”: “When you’ve reached rock bottom, there’s only one way to go, and that’s up!” That idea, alongside the “1% better every day” mentality, is responsible for who I am today.
The 1% better mentality encourages people to immerse themselves in the process of achieving small goals that add up to progress over time, rather than looking for immediate results.
A common question when looking at this mentality on the surface is after reaching 100 days and at 100%, what happens next?
James Clear, author of the New York Times best selling books, “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” explains if you get 1% better every day for a year, you will be 37 times better by the end of the year.
The beauty of the 1% mentality is that it is never-ending. There is no 100%, as we are constantly growing and exceeding new expectations without even realizing it.
Where my 1% began
After being bullied during my junior year of high school, I was in a horrible place mentally; I felt weak, alone, invisible, and unworthy of anything good in my life. I continued to feel like this until my neighbor encouraged me to try kickboxing.
I began kickboxing on Jan. 3, 2020. After my second workout, kickboxing became an outlet for me to do something on my own and make myself proud. However, I was not very good at it.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the gym to close, I participated in online kickboxing workouts. I practiced my kickboxing skills every day for two months straight in the comfort of my garage with nothing but my laptop and boxing gloves.
I later discovered that I was making progress every day. My punches were cleaner, my front kicks were precise, and my balance and footwork had improved. Every day I put my gloves on and tried my hardest, I was growing 1% better.
Don’t just take it from me
Chris Nikic, 23-year-old triathlete endorses this mentality. As the first person with Down syndrome to finish an Ironman triathlon, Nikic became living proof of the 1% better mentality. Nikic is also a public speaker and author of “1% Better: Reaching My Full Potential and How You Can Too,” which uses his story to inspire others.
Other books such as “The 1% Rule: How to Fall in Love with the Process and Achieve Your Wildest Dreams” by Tommy Baker and “1 Percent Better Everyday: How Small and Simple Actions Everyday Lead to Big Results” by Dr. Michael C. Melvin also validate this philosophy.
What can you do?
The short answer: anything. The 1% better mentality encourages everyone to set goals both big and small, and work at them a little each day. The 1% better mentality is transferrable to all aspects of your life.
While I was growing as a kickboxer, I was also growing as a person. Every day I became a little more confident than the day before. I found my smile again. Looking back now, I know I am in a completely different place mentally than when I walked through the gym doors for the first time.
The philosophy that small growth is sustainable growth has helped me immensely. In September 2020, I was offered a job as a lead trainer at the gym. In August 2022, I accomplished my 500th workout, all of which seemed unimaginable when I began. All those tiny percentages added up.
My advice for adopting this mentality is simple:
- Write down your goals: writing goals down holds people more accountable.
- Make weekly progress reports: at the beginning of each week, write down one thing that you will do each day to help accomplish your goals.
- Tell a friend or family: telling at least one person about our goals encourages us to share the progress we have made, furthering us to make progress every day.
- Remember, “slow and steady wins the race”: at the beginning of each journey towards accomplishing goals, progress may feel minuscule. Therefore, it is important to focus on consistency rather than seeing immediate results. Trust your progress and process.
I am a firm believer in Buster Moon’s words: in any realm, even at the lowest of lows, small actions can be taken which will perpetuate change and results toward any goal.
No personal goal is unreachable, anything can be achieved if you take small steps up the ladder of success.