Focusing on incremental, one-percent improvements instead of some grand transformation intrigues me. I’m led to question not just what goals are best for me but the very process by which I determine those goals. After all, the process of improvement must be doable to mean anything. Focusing on being one percent better is not just doable but far more enriching than the alternative.
Catch your vision
Elder Dunn began his remarks by sharing the story of British cycling. For about a century, British bicycle racing teams won little distinction. Their performance was so poor some manufacturers refused to sell bicycles to them, for fear the association would irreparably tarnish them.
But that changed in 2003 when a new coach, Sir Dave Brailsford, was hired. Sir Brailsford rejected using the latest trends and technology, preferring, as he put it, “the aggregation of marginal gains.” British cyclists began looking at everything they did and how they could improve by just one percent. The results were amazing. As Elder Dunn described,
He further explained,
After applying this approach over the past two decades, British cycling has amassed an impressive array of awards, including six Tour de France victories and more Olympic medals across all cycling disciplines than any other country.
Clear your path
This approach and these results together get me thinking. What if I’ve been going about this New Years resolution business all wrong? What if a shift in my focus towards small, one-percent improvements is what I’m really missing?
I began by adjusting my goal creation process. Normally I start by reviewing my mission statement (which details my life purpose) and then my vision statement (which describes the characteristics of my ideal best self) to see if they still resonate with me. If they don’t, I make changes until they do. I then ask myself, “What portion of the gap between where I want to be and where I am will I work on this year?” and I make goals to address that portion.
But I see now this approach invariably leads to biting off more than I can chew. I always justified it thinking it’s better to aim for the stars and miss than aim for a pile of dung and hit target. But by attempting too big a change, I set myself up for failure and disappointment.
This year I’m trying a new approach. Keeping the mission statement review, I adjusted the vision statement review to describe what my best self looks like at the end of the year rather than the end of my life. I then scored myself on how well I meet that end-of-year standard today.
Of course, that comparison finds me wanting, but that’s OK. Elder Dunn taught that
Stephen Covey declared the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. For achieving goals, the main thing is making sure to get just one percent better every day.
Work your plan
I tied each goal to a descriptive characteristic from my end-of-year vision statement to maintain alignment with my direction. Now the question each day is this: What will I do today to get just one percent better in each of my goals? I plan on evaluating my progress after each week and month to assess progress and adjust where needed.
Focusing on improvements of just one percent each day seems like my missing essential element. I’ve already felt greatly encouraged applying this new approach for creating my goals, so we’ll see what develops in what I actually achieve.
If making New Year’s resolutions you’re confident you won’t keep discourages you, or if the failures of previous attempts to achieve and become your best self dismay you, I invite you to consider focusing not on some grand transformation but rather on the one percent change you can make today. When you get one percent better each and every day, it won’t be long before you find yourself making remarkable progress. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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