The Year of 1% Better

books, goals, reading, year of 1% better

2019 is an up-in-the-air kind of year for me. I have a good idea what the next few weeks might look like. In a couple of weeks I will submit my dissertation. I will hopefully defend in February, completing all Ph.D. requirements. And then, I do not know. I do not graduate until May and am fully funded — so that is not a problem. It is the what comes after that is sort of the up-in-the-air part. Questions such as — where will I work? Where will we live? Not to mention that in June comes baby…

So, yes, goals. Considering that the only part of 2019 that I have any clarity about is the month I’m currently in, it has been kind of hard to make plans for the year at large. Like I would love to be able to write that I have plans for a fall marathon, but life post-baby might not allow for that. I do not know. I have no idea and I do not want to assume anything (because you know what they say about the word assume…).

For 2019, then, I plan on focusing month by month instead of for the year-at-large. I finished reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits before the end of 2018. One of the main ideas of the book is to start with small habits, just a little bit every day. Tiny adjustments eventually make a big difference, as opposed to the big, grand declaration of habit change that usually ends up falling through by January 3.

“…improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable–sometimes it isn’t evenย noticeable–but it can be more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.”ย 

I like that and when I reflect back on my own life I think it is true. Every time I wanted to start eating healthier, I try to do some grandiose diet-type thing like Whole 30 (ok, Whole 30 people I understand it is not a diet, but you know what I mean). Within a few days I would make exceptions and be going out to eat (hello, my darling bacon cheeseburgers. I missed you). Whenever I wanted to start running again, I would immediately train for a marathon. Then, boom. Injured and discouraged, I would not pick it back up. I would go full Martha Stewart, wanting to keep my house clean. Even with my dissertation, every time I tried to be one of those people who could just pound out words eight hours a day, it would only take a day before I would be burnt out and messing around on Facebook. It never works. Never, ever works.

So this year, something different. Month by month, I’m going to focus on little goals — the 1% goals. I’ll share January’s goals next week, but for now this is the plan, and it seems as good a plan as any.

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