2 minute read


On LinkedIn today somebody in my network shared a thought that if we do something small each day to be better, that over time we will accumulate so many small, good things we will have improved greatly. It reminded me of something James Clear spoke about in a talk a couple years ago. The talk: 1% Better.

James Clear takes the math just a step further and says that we will not only be 365% better, but will be closer to 5000 times better because of the compounding of the habits and how they accelerate as time goes on. James also talks about how we can trick ourselves into doing things that will helps us improve. For example, if the goal is to floss our teeth, then just making the commitment to floss just one tooth can help us. The “one” thing we commit to is just getting the one tooth flossed. If we do nothing else on that goal we will have succeeded. The thing is that you cannot just floss one tooth. By the time you get in there you just cascade and do most all the teeth anyway.

I was a terrible flosser. I have really crowded teeth and so flossing has never been something I have enjoyed doing. The floss is just too thick to fit between my teeth and then wrapping it around my fingers and then pushing my hands into my tiny mouth just does not work. But with a couple adjustments I have not missed a day in over 650 days. What were those tiny adjustments?

  1. I only have to floss one tooth (I know you saw that one coming)

  2. I asked my dentist about a better floss. Apparently there is something called Flow Floss which is thinner but just as strong or stronger and can fit between my teeth.

  3. I got those floss picks. They are better than nothings and I can floss my teeth without having to put my hands into my tiny mouth

  4. I have an app (Streaks) on my phone that tracks how well I am doing. Every day before going to bed I mark it off that I have done that habit.

With just these small, minor adjustments I have been successful doing something that has plagued me for years. That is the power of the 1% better, minor adjustments every day.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash