How to Get 1% Better Every Day – Atomic Habits

How to Get 1% Better Every Day – Atomic Habits

I would like to start this episode with a story…That I read in the book Atomic Habits.

So this story is about Team Sky Great Britain’s professional cycling team that hired a guy named Dave Brailsford for a new coach’s position somewhere around 2008. And at that time the performance of the Team sky for the last few decades was pretty ordinary.

In fact, they only won one Olympic medal in cycling in the last 100 years from 1908 to 2008. They have never won Tour de France the biggest event in cycling.

So, when they hired Brailford they told him that they want to improve their performance and they want to win major tournaments. They asked him- what’s your plan? How are we going to achieve this?

Brailsford told them that he has this strategy which he called aggregation of marginal gains.

What’s the aggregation of marginal gains they asked? He explained that the aggregation of marginal gains is a strategy of improving 1% daily in nearly everything you do.

So he began this by making few changes like – redesigned the bike seats to make them more comfortable and rubbed alcohol on the tires for a better grip. They asked riders to wear electrically heated over shorts to maintain ideal muscle temperature.

They used biofeedback sensors to monitor how each athlete responded to a particular workout. They tried different suits and tried making them lighter and more aerodynamic.

But these changes could be made by any cycling team. But in addition to these changes, they also did things that are different.

They tested many massage gels to determine which ones is the best for faster recovery. They changed riders’ pillows and mattress for better quality sleep. They also make riders follow better hygiene routines so they get sick less often.

When these minute changes accumulated they achieved the results faster than they ever could think of.

Surprisingly, after 4 years they won 70% gold medals of the 2012 London Olympics and in the same year, one of their riders won tour de France as well.

Between the year 2007-2017 Team sky won 178 world championships and 66 Olympic or Paralympics gold medals and 5 Tour de France tournaments.

So, how they were able to achieve so much in so little time? And by looking at their past performances this result looked like a miracle.

The answer is the Aggregation of Marginal Gains!

When small habits or atomic habits accumulate over time – they produce unimaginable results.

If we try to improve only 1% every day with a compounding effect we will improve thirty-seven times by the end of the year. Isn’t that amazing?

Imagine how much you can achieve where you can reach if you have improved thirty-seven times.

One of my favourite author and speaker Jim Rohn once said – Success is a few simple disciplines, practised every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.

You must be thinking this is not practical. How can we improve 1% every single day? Sometimes we get sick, tired, busy with work, sometimes we feel lazy throughout the day!

Listen to this, If we improve 1% in 4 days of a week we will improve more than 10 times by the end of the year. And if I am right improving 10 times in a year is not a small thing.

So, how can you replicate the approach of aggregation of marginal gains in your own life?

To do that I want you to close your eyes for a minute and imagine what you want in your life?

It could be health, money, relationship, better customers, better job…It could be anything!

Now ask yourself, what’s the one habit that’s stopping you to reach that goal and what’s one habit that you can inculcate in your life that will help you achieve that goal?

Let’s say you want to lose weight – so bad habit could be binge eating, fast food, not exercising, etc.

And one habit that will help you achieve weight loss could be making healthier food choices, hitting the gym more often, going for a walk every day.

So knowing what habits will help us achieve things we want what keeps us pursuing them?

Let’s go a little further. The next point, we are addicted to this chemical called Dopamine.

Dopamine is a hormone and a neurotransmitter that plays several important roles in the brain and body.

Dopamine is released when your brain is expecting a reward. When you come to associate a certain activity with pleasure, mere anticipation may be enough to raise dopamine levels.

But high dopamine level destroys our mind and body…some effects include, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, stress, and lack of motivation. And the habits you want to change that are keeping you away from your goals and achievements are those activities that increase the level of dopamine in your body.

So why is this important because we have to understand that every single habit even a negative habit have a positive intent? And it gives us a lot of pain when we are trying to change or replace them. That’s why it’s so difficult to replace a negative habit.

So to form a habit there are 4 steps

A Cue – then Craving –then Response – and finally a Reward

atomic habits

For example, your phone buzzes with the text that’s a cue.

The craving is you want to check it and when you check what your friend sent you that’s a response.

And the reward is the dopamine hit you get from you and his text back and forth. That’s how a habit is formed

So let’s talk about that first habit that you want to incorporate okay?

For example, let’s say you want to work out more! You want your body to move more

The first thing you have to do here is-

Make it obvious – you will go to the gym or workout at home, Yoga, resistance training, Crossfit, running

Secondly, make it attractive – vision board …photos of your body goal

Thirdly, make it easy- only 10 min exercise

And lastly, make it satisfying- cheat day once in a week

Now How to break a habit

For example, let’s say you want to stop eating junk food

  1. Invisible – block or unfollow food-related pages, stop watching recipe videos
  2. Unattractive – watch documentaries about obesity like sugar-coated or fed up on Netflix
  3. difficult- Don’t have fast food or sugary items at your home
  4. Unsatisfying- think will I be able to live a long and healthy life if I don’t exercise or eat responsibly

Now finally I want to say I feel Winner and losers have the same goal.

Every Olympian wants to win the gold medal right? But what separates winners from losers is that losers’ focuses on goals and winners focus on systems.

It’s not the goal it’s the systems that makes all the difference. We don’t rise to the level of training. We fall to the level of habits.

The goal shouldn’t be to read one book; the goal should be to become a reader.

The goal is not to lose weight, but to work out and make healthy food choices.

The goal should be to make x amount of money per month or year: the goal should be to be financially independent and free.

The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. True behavior change is identity change.

And your identity emerges out of your habits. Repeating a behavior reinforces the identity associated with it. So, each time you write a page, you are a writer. Each time you start a workout, you are an athlete.

How to change your identity:

  1. Decide the type of person you want to be and
  2. Prove it to yourself with your actions

Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.

If you make it so far, I would like to thank you for your time. Do let me know how do you like this episode? And I will talk to you in the next one.

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Founder and CEO of MarkBuzz LLP, Digital Marketer, Investor, Youtuber, Podcaster and Author.