Why “1% Better Every Day” is Not a Good Strategy

Like many things on the internet and social media, the mantra of getting 1% better every day sounds great. It is catchy, and even uses impressive math to assert the benefits you will receive. It’s an easy concept to grasp and sounds simple, which is ultimately what the average person is looking for. However, high achievers know there are no shortcuts or hacks.

I’m a big believer in simplifying your life as much as possible. However, the first problem I have is that although this strategy sounds simple, it is more salesy than realistic. Let’s use the same math they use to promote this method.

The world record for the 178.5 lbs. weight class in the overhead press, known as the snatch lift, is 385.81 lbs. If you are a male weight lifter who weighs 175 lbs. and has a current best in the overhead press of 100 lbs. and you improve 1% every day for one year, you will be able to lift an astonishing 3778.34 lbs above your head at the end of that year.

Taking the math one step further… This means that any male or female who can currently lift just 10.3 lbs over their head, with a ‘simple’ 1% improvement every day, could lift 389.17 lbs. over their head one year from today. This would break the current world record by almost 4 lbs.

As compelling as the salesy math they use to promote this idea is, I hope you can see the non-salesy math used here* is even more compelling.

One of my bigger issues with 1% better every day is the false narrative that progress follows a straight-up trend. This is ridiculous, as most progress comes after setbacks rather than triumphs.

You will be better served if you focus on giving your best effort each day, as that is something within your control and process-oriented rather than result-oriented. I’ve said it a million times, the people who focus on the process are many times more likely to end up with the results they are looking for than those who are result-oriented.

My other large issue with the 1% better every day strategy is that it promotes perfectionism. If you’re focused on getting 1% better every day, you are likely to beat yourself up with unproductive, self-loathing thoughts on the days you inevitably fail to do so. Setting high standards for yourself is good, but only if they are comprised of things that are within your control, like your effort.

There are numerous popular hacks and shortcuts on the internet and social media, many of which are harmful to your mindset, whether you realize it or not. Whether well-intended or not, very few of them can compete with the strenuous mental and physical work it takes to be truly great.


*= Special thanks to John Fleck for help with the math used here.


You can follow Sam on Twitter: @SuperTaoInc


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