- January 23, 2020
- Bob Quinn
At this time of year there tends to be a lot of talk about making resolutions that will improve your life, about forming habits so that you’ll be a better version of yourself. Mostly we fail, if we bother making them at all.
But there’s a concept rooted in mathematics that is very relevant to goals and resolutions and yet is not often mentioned. It’s the power of tiny gains.
Small, but regular improvements
The theory is that if you improve something by 1% every day, by the end of one year it will be 37 times better! Conversely, if something gets worse by 1% every day for a year, it will be only very slightly worse (-0.03) than when you started!
When we apply this concept to those new year’s resolutions, or anything we are trying to get better at, from changing our diets to exercising more, from being more eco-conscious to switching off from screens, it takes away the huge-ness of the challenge. All we have to do is make tiny incremental improvements regularly.
If you have a major challenge to pull off this year, break it down to improvements of 1% in every area you can.
For every small change you make, identify the compounding effect and cash in
I talked switching mortgages in the last blog. By simply tweaking a €300k mortgage, you will save c. €100 per month. Not a whole lot, but start with your gains by banking your €1,200. Then whisk yourself away for a stunning weekend in Ashford Castle, an trip to Croatia for the weekend, or simply gift the money to a local charity.
Your small gain can have a significant impact long term, but you must make a start. Whether it’s the mortgage, your calorie intake or your pension, small, positive changes have a major impact long term.
The trick is knowing how powerful the outcome will be at the end of a year and using this knowledge to stick with the challenge. Unless we understand the concept, it’s easy to lose motivation because the changes are tiny and we’ll give up after a short time thinking we’re getting nowhere.
Tiny improvements in many areas
The power of tiny gains works for all kinds of things, not just personal development. To see how this approach transformed a sport at international level, read this fascinating blog by James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. Somebody should send a copy of that book to the FAI!
So maybe your first tiny change is making an appointment with me 😊. You can book in for a free, no-obligation chat on the phone here.