Forget about perfection, focus on progression.
How often have you woken on a Monday with intending to make all the positive changes that are going to make your life better? A spreadsheet with your macros calculated, meals planned, a fridge full of Paleo meals, five days of workouts booked and you’re ready to CRUSH IT.
Monday is a breeze, you did everything perfectly. Same for Tuesday. On Wednesday you’re sick of mixed vegetables and grilled chicken breasts. Thursday has morons in it, goes rapidly downhill and because you didn’t sleep well last night you’re ready for a beer and pizza on the couch with Netflix. Ah well, may as well make it an extra-large and you’ll try again on Monday.
This “all or nothing and it must be perfect” approach to implementing positive changes to our lives is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving our goals.
The aggregation of marginal gains is a theory that’s explained as the “1% improvement in everything that you do”. Instead of placing so much emphasis on one big defining moment of success, we should rather focus on making small and manageable improvements on a daily basis.
In 2010, Dave Brailsford, the General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky, Britain’s professional cycling team, applied this theory with the goal of winning the Tour de France within five years.
He looked at all the metrics that could possibly affect the team’s success and set about making small improvements across everything, including the minor details overlooked as being of little to no consequence.
Team Sky won the Tour de France within three years.
We don’t need to be training for the Tour de France to apply this theory to our lives. Small daily improvements in the areas you are looking to change, which you often don’t even notice, are meaningful and add up to big changes over the long term.
This theory can be applied to your nutrition, training, relationships or any aspect of your life that you’re looking to excel at.
So what does this theory look like for us? Instead of whole-scale overnight changes to your diet, try add some green vegetables to your dinner each week night and on Friday, have one beer instead of three. Try that for a week. Once you’ve successfully applied these changes and they’ve become a consistent habit add another small improvement like replacing the mindless after-dinner grazing with a five minute stretch session instead. Try that for a week.
Excellence is the gradual result of always wanting to do better – Pat Riley
Aim to be just 1% better, every day.