“Your life is a product of your standards. If you tolerate low-level living, that’s what you’ll get.”~ Benjamin Hardy
We tolerate low-level living because the work necessary to pull ourselves up feels overwhelming and unachievable.
We don’t trust ourselves to make that big change.
The truth is, we shouldn’t trust ourselves.
Dramatic changes in lifestyle or mindset rarely stick.
It may seem counterintuitive, but to make big changes, focus instead on seemingly insignificant and unsexy incremental improvements in your daily habits.
Get one percent better every day.
If you can improve one percent each day, you’ll be 37 times better at the end of the year.
One percent in almost unnoticeable. Thirty-seven times better is life changing.
It was Benjamin Franklin that said, “Little strokes fell great oaks.” Make no mistake, big changes in your life are great oaks. We will always revert back to what is easy and comfortable unless we build the success habits as guide rails to our goals.
We cannot rely on willpower. Willpower is overvalued.
The following is a list of 37 simple ways you can get one percent better in 2019:
1) Be Creative
Having embraced creativity for the first time less than a decade ago, (at the age of 27), I can now say that nothing has contributed to my growth as a person and professional like making creativity a part of my everyday life.
This doesn’t mean you have to hit publish. Just allow your mind to explore without boundaries. It’s amazing what you might find inside your mind.
2) Solve a Problem
Be conscious of excuses and instead of allowing yourself off the hook, take ownership and solve the problem, no matter how mundane.
3) Scale Your Wins
Watch for wins in your life and business. When you see one, double down into it. See how far the rabbit hole goes.
Try smiling, at everyone, your spouse, co-worker, and even complete strangers you shoulder past at the convenient store on way home from the office. Smile and be honest about it and watch what happens.
5) Have a Unique Viewpoint
Jim Rome, the popular sports radio talk show host, is famous for his line, “Have a take and don’t suck.”
For the purposes of better one percent better, forget about the “don’t suck” part.
By “listen,” I mean focus on what other people are saying with compassion for their agenda. This doesn’t mean be quiet until it’s your turn to speak. Actually, listen. There is a whole world of people out there that might know something you don’t.
I’m still getting a feel for the role mindfulness will play in my own life, but as of writing this article, I’ve used the app Headspace to engage in at least 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation for the last 10 days in a row.
The founder of Headspace refers to mindfulness meditation as the “softening” of the brain. So far, I can buy that and feel like I’m beginning to understand what it means (more to come on this in future articles).
8) Acknowledge Fear
Acknowledge your fear, for often, our outward expression of fear is anger. No wants to hang out with angry people.
James Altucher calls this, “borrowing other people 10,000 hours,” in reference to the 10,000-hour rule for mastery.
Since August I’ve been reading (books, not including web articles) at least 5-7 hours a week.
The information download is as addictive as a crack hit without the gum disease.
10) Never Regret
The thing happened. You didn’t want for it to happen. You didn’t mean for it to happen, but it did. There is nothing you can do to change that except move forward. Regret is cancer.
11) Tell the Truth
This one is hard. We all tell ourselves and each other little white lies all day long. Stop. You will hate this at first and then begin to love it. So hard though.
12) Work Harder
Pretty one is straightforward. For any number of reasons, you’re not working as hard as can. Work harder, see how it feels.
13) Don’t Gossip
When you gossip, the person you’re gossiping to isn’t just thinking less about the person you’re gossiping about. Noodle on that.
Plus gossiping is a terrible waste of energy.
14) Be Specific
What do you want? Be specific. This will help frame how you get it.
During the holiday season, my diet is out of character versus the rest of the year. Most notable is the massive amount of sugar I stuff in my face.
All the sugar lead to foggy brain. Your brain extracts energy from fat, not carbs (sugar).
How you fuel your machine determines how it will operate.
Mindfulness meditation, cold-showers and Deep Work also fall into the category of mental clarity.
16) Fortify the Tempel
See above and then EAT BETTER FOOD.
A couple of weeks ago at the end of a conversation with my best friends, “Love you bro!” and I meant it.
Here’s the deal, lots of guys that stuff to each other these days, except we never have really. It felt good because, in the sincerest way possible, I do love him.
Let other people love you and express love where meaningful and appropriate. This is especially true with your spouse. Just because they said, “yes” doesn’t mean you never need to show affection again.
Love really is the answer.
18) Over-Promise, Over-Deliver
On everything, every time.
Impossible, but a tremendous mantra to live by for if you even get close, you’ll win, always.
19) Wake Up
Get your ass out of bed and get your day going. Period. Even if you are a night period.
From mental clarity to bowel movements, physical stamina to mood, proper hydration is a necessity for improving just about anything and everything else in your life.
Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day.
21) Turn Off Your Phone
At best they create attention fragmentation, destroying any chance for deep, meaningful work.
At worst they suck out your soul through your thumbs and eyeballs.
I don’t mean become a writer (unless you want to be a writer. Then, by all means, become a writer). I simply mean write. Get your thoughts out of your head. Whatever those thoughts may be. Admittedly, for anyone not drawn to writing this is a very tough habit, but if you can persevere and lock it into your routine, you’ll be very happy you did.
Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” method is a great place if you need a solid framework.
Determine what is important. Do those things. Don’t do anything that isn’t on that list.
I am terrible at this one.
24) 90-Day Sprints
Break down the changes you like to make and the goals you’d like to hit this year into 90-day sprints. Too often goals (and the tactics necessary to hit them) change rapidly.
90-days will allow you to adjust course. Additionally, you give yourself the opportunity for four big wins throughout the year instead of just one.
Which is fun.
25) Rest More
Plus, according to Cal Newport, you can only do 4-6 hours of deep meaningful work a day anyway. So work hard, then rest.
26) Think More
We think all day long. WRONG!
Doing your job, conversing with your kids or spouse at breakfast, or cracking a joke via text with you college buddies isn’t thinking, at least not the meaningful kind.
Go for a drive, a walk, take a long shower, or put on some classical music and kick back in your home office (whatever gets you there) and allow your brain to wander into places the mundane regularness of your everyday life does not allow it go.
Then see what happens.
27) Stop Drinking
I love beer.
But alcohol lowers blood sugar (as well as many other negative side effects) creating decreased brain function and poor sleep patterns.
But it’s so good.
Tough call on this one.
28) Invest in Yourself
This is going to mean something different for all of you. For me, this is paying $100 for my gym membership, signing up educational courses and reading books (which cost money).
If it helps you improve mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually then it’s worth the money.
If it will simply help you make more money, then it’s worth considering but not necessarily a must.
29) Give More
There is an entire chapter in my book, Content Warfare, dedicated to the idea of giving without the expectation of reciprocation. In the case of Content Warfare, I was talking about marketing success.
But I’m pretty sure this concept stands up in real life as well.
30) Take Cold Showers
For a bunch of reasons I won’t get into in this article taking a cold shower (which means standing under freezing cold water for three minutes or longer) every morning is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
31) Have Sex
For a bunch of reasons I won’t get into in this article having regular, (regular in frequency, you can perform the act however you and your partner see fit), sex with someone you care about is great for your mental and physical wellbeing.
32) Focus on Meaning
If there is anything that Jordan Peterson taught us in this EPIC work, 12 Rules for Life (which is my number one book recommendation for 2019), it’s that meaning trumps happiness.
“Do what is meaningful, not what is expedient.”
33) Growth Over Status
Forget about where you fall in the hierarchy. Grow. Do awesome shit. Let your audience/customers figure it out.
Status is ego and per Ryan Holiday, “Ego is the Enemy.”
34) Open Your Mind
Open your mind to the idea that you don’t know everything and in fact, you don’t know much about most things.
Then go try something new.
35) Be Curious
Curiosity is something I’m going to spend a good amount of time examing in 2019.
What I know right now is it’s most likely a core building block of longterm success.
36) Delay Gratification
Once again, according to Jordan Peterson, (though I’m not sure if this is in his book or from a YouTube video), the two primary indicators of success in life and business are intelligence and the ability to delay gratification.
37) Ask for Help
So few people (myself included) do this as often as they should. If you are genuine and thoughtful in your ask, people will want to help you.
Please don’t take from this article that I do all these things. This is an aspiration list. And again, the point is to get one percent better every day.
Some of these you might already be crushing. Great. Pick one or two that you struggle with and may add value to your life and focus on them.
Small incremental improvements for the win.
P.S. as always, if you have thoughts or comments on this article, just hit reply.