The 1% rule

Published: February 14, 2022

It’s a new year and pretty much every social media post that I see is a fitness offer or a diet box subscription, or an online course that promises to make me an expert in air-dry pottery/NLP/jazzercize in just 6 short weeks. It’s natural to set goals for the new year as we look forward to the promise and adventure that a shiny new year brings (despite the fact that the last couple of years haven’t necessarily been the most successful on record, but how often do we achieve these goals

A survey for YouGov found that of the 12% of the UK population who did set themselves a new year’s resolution, only a quarter kept all of them (26%), although half managed to keep some of them (48%). Around a quarter failed entirely (23%). Based on my experience, the resolutions that call for major life overhauls are notoriously difficult to maintain; want to run 10 miles every day when you barely walk 2000 steps on any given day of the week and work 15 hour days? Amazing work if you can do it but that’s a goal that requires a major overhaul that impacts your work, your family life, the time you have available for other activities, etc. But just because you aren’t running a marathon every day, learning to speak a new language fluently or batch cooking 300 meals every Sunday, it doesn’t mean that you can’t set yourself a more manageable and realistic goal, in fact, according to James Clear it just takes a 1% improvement to start accumulating advantages. Clear gives an excellent example.

Imagine two women swimming in the Olympics. One of them might be 1/100th of a second faster than the other, but she gets all of the gold medal. Ten companies might pitch a potential client, but only one of them will win the project. You only need to be a little bit better than the competition to secure all of the reward. In business, the 1% rule is clear to see when you are talking to a prospective customer, it’s the little things that make you and your business more appealing to work with than your competitors; perhaps you’ve had a little more experience? Perhaps you’ve got evidence of a few more practical skills and certifications? Perhaps you are slightly speedier when it comes to replying to emails? These are all small things that could make a big difference to the success of your business, but don’t require significant outlay of money/time/effort to give you that margin over your competitors.

So before you throw in the towel with your New Year’s Resolutions this January, why not revisit them and see if they can be simplified to make them more realistic to achieve in the long term? You can still set yourself challenging goals if you find that they successfully motivate you, but it’s good to know that small, incremental improvements to what you do every day (in your business and personal lives) can make all the difference