Okay, Imagine something for just a moment. Imagine that you could be what you want, pretty much BECAUSE you want it.
I mean, how freakin sweet would that be – to be what you want, as SOON and as EASILY as you want? How totally, AMAZINGLY legit would it be if we could be so much cooler, fitter, richer, freer, and happier in a day, at our whim? Right?
“Umm, I think I’ll be cool. Today, please.” we’d say. And it’d be so.
Or, “Oh, I think maybe today…I’ll be thin.” And so it would be.
Or I’ll be financially independent. Or be stronger emotionally. Or whatever. And it would become as we say.
It’s actually probably not too hard to imagine this at all. Because, at some level, we already somewhat think it’s true. Though we don’t really say it (because, umm… it’s pretty ridiculous), we must expect it. Kinda. Unknowingly. Unconsciously.
We do, after all, live in a kind of magic pill society – where results are typically guaranteed in 30 days or your money back – where we EXPECT results in 30 days or we DEMAND our money back.
We live in world where most give up as soon as they encounter any difficulty AT ALL – as soon as what they receive is not what they believe they deserve, or have earned, or have fairly purchased.
But, Let’s Be Serious…
Are most goals, skills, or accomplishments achieved in 30 days? Are ANY of the things you’d give anything to have right now really so possible in 30 days? Or simply when YOU want them accomplished?
Maybe. I hope so. Some goals are small enough. Some quick enough. But frankly speaking, it’s not freaking likely for anything that’s of true importance or impact. And that’s why most don’t try, or too soon give up.
Because when we’re faced with some daunting goal or challenge – like becoming cooler, or thinner, or richer, or whatever might make our now broken and sadder lives that much better – we look at the horizon of the journey – the end of the goal – and say “Ahhh, it’s too faaaaaar.”
And, guess what? You’re probably RIGHT. The goal probably IS pretty damn far away.
Because when you come from a place of real weakness, or scarcity, or depression, or whatever damn thing prevents you from ALREADY being that person you want right now – living that life you want – there is often a long way to go to completely healing what was done or overcoming what must be overcome. And we’re not usually willing to be honest with ourselves about how hard that will be, or how much work that will take.
So, let’s start being honest…
Admit it: You want all things better NOW. You want all the change you desire done today. Or damn soon, at least. I do too.
But in reality, you’re not gonna become a straight-A student tomorrow, and I’m not gonna be the man I want tomorrow.
You’re not gonna be ripped, or thin, or healthy by next sunlight.
You’re not gonna sit under a tree and attain nirvana in a moment’s meditation.
You won’t be the coolest dude when you wake in the morning.
You won’t be rich by next paycheck.
And you won’t suddenly be the happiest and most put-together sir or lady just cause you read some posts here (though, let’s be serious, that’s like half the battle…)
What Am I NOT Talking About?
But what I’m saying is not quite what it seems.
It’s NOT so much that all these things take time. Of course they do. You know that. I know that. ALL things take time. Some a lot. Some not so much at all.
But the amount of time needed isn’t what I’m concerned with here. I don’t care about that at all – because it’s arbitrary really, and related mostly not to the goal itself but to the effort put into achieving it.
What this post is about, is that the magnitude of the goal or achievement that would truly change your life is most often greater than you think. And it simply can’t be done at once. It can’t be completed with a single act, finished in single effort, done because of one day’s work.
Like the mountain isn’t climbed with a single jump or step, this goal won’t be reached in one fell swoop.
No. It’s done little by little, in tiny increments, by small, small, almost unnoticeable amounts – as all goals are reached and all things are learned by our minds.
Not because it’s better to, or because your dreams and vision should be any more modest, but because skills, knowledge, and progress are achieved in no other way.
Not because goals should be chopped up, or that change should be slow and steady, but that you couldn’t learn the lessons you needed to achieve the goal anyway in a day if you tried.
Like I said, the time it takes is in fact irrelevant and arbitrary. And if I could choose to be the man I dream tomorrow, I’d do it in a second and deal LATER with the massive life changes I’d probably need to come to terms with.
But that’s not it.
It’s that, in fact, no matter what I do, or who I pay, or where I travel, there is simply NO WAY I could learn the (probably) countless little life lessons that in fact go into MY goal, or what we perceive as SINGULAR goals – being the happiest dude, or the most popular, or the richest, or the most successful.
It’s that any one goal isn’t simply ONE thing to master at all, but a million little lessons to learn, that the person who HAS mastered them knows and is now familiar with, but that those who simply dream of it ALMOST ALWAYS fail to recognize.
And these little lessons just don’t come all at once – and THAT’S why the goal is impossible in a day, or probably 30 days, or probably even more than that. Nor can you force these lessons, or seek them specifically even. They just happen – when you’re trying hard and when you’re failing hard.
Change IS 1%
But that’s what change is…a 1% process.
And no matter how hard you work or how much effort you put in, it’s simply the way of the world that you can never learn more than a thing at a time, or improve but a bit at a time.
The pace of your improvement can be improved but the improvement itself from any single action cannot.
Even your greatest efforts, then, are not ever likely to give you more than the smallest of improvements. Sometimes noticeably, yet often not – to YOUR eyes even, at that time.
That’s how the math of change works. When you put in 100% effort, you get 1% return. When you’re consistent and dedicated in your efforts (in collecting 1% returns) you get 100% change. It sounds like the worst investment ever (at least since I pumped my vast fortunes into Myspace last year), but in a world where so few try, and where even fewer remain committed, it’s actually the wisest investment you’ll ever make.
Because life goals are BIG goals. They’re complex. They’re the types of things you scratch and claw for bit-by-bit. And when you see someone who is NOW where you want to be SOON, you say: “Aw damn. They have everything I want. They have 100%.”
No, actually. They don’t.
What you perceive doesn’t exist.
What they DO have are many lessons learned through the difficulty of their experiences. They have a lot of 1 percents of that goal, which together make up the entirety of what you want.
And that’s what your efforts and struggles and failures will give you too should you try hard enough and be dedicated long enough: those 1 percents of the goal that will one day lead to you having it all.
So don’t worry about accomplishing the TOTAL goal today.
Don’t worry about 100%.
Because you can’t. Because it doesn’t exist anyway.
Worry about 1.
The one-whole-freaking-percent improvement that you can ACTUALLY achieve right now.
1% in Action: How Kobe Bryant Gets Pretty Good
Take Kobe Bryant for instance (don’t dig the guy), who probably shoots a thousand balls a day (which incidentally leaves no time to practice passing it seems). Or Derek Jeter (heart him), who probably takes a thousand swings a day (when he’s not being loved up by model actresses).
They set out to be great at what they do. They set a goal to be the best shooter or hitter. And so what do they do?
They practice. They put in work. They put in effort. They take those thousand shots and swings every day.
But each player’s single shot or swing in practice is mostly useless when you think about it, right? In fact, the thousand swings and shots are probably not much better. But from that practice maybe Bryant’s shot is 1% more consistent that night, and Jeter’s swing 1% better timed that evening (and even those improvements must be repeated the next day and the next day and on and on to become habit and learned).
But in games determined by fractions of an inch, those improvements ARE huge.
The Value of 1%
1% sounds depressing, I know. It sounds discouraging. But imagine for a moment the difference one percent would make. Imagine how much better your life or self would be with only 1% improvement. Imagine what that might bring and to what that might result.
1% is a powerful thing in life. And with that 1% improvement the next improvement is that much closer. And on and on, till you are wholly different. Entirely better.
And those 1 percents add up. And add up. And add up. And suddenly the goal isn’t so far anymore, or the mountain so tall anymore.
So forget about achieving the ENTIRETY of a goal at a time. Quit believing that you’re owed progress and success in 30 days or less. Quit worrying that you’re not “there” yet or “done” yet.
You can’t be anyway – right now, with a single effort.
Just worry about 1%.
Because if you’re dedicated to your goal, and try hard in it, and put every effort towards it, you’ll be so fortunate as to improve 1 magnificent and glorious percent today.
And it’ll likely be 1% more than everyone else.
And You? What do YOU think about the process and struggle of improvement? Lemme know in the comments below and we’ll have a super public intellectual convo. And share the post! Thanks!