1% and also, 1%
So, for reals, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
It’s June now. You may be asking: Where did 2022 go? Where did my twenties go? Where did my life go? What am I even doing?
What are you doing that lights the fire of life inside you? It’s okay to answer nothing. It’s okay if the answer is that you don’t know what lights the fire, and further, you thought that that fireplace was bricked over and inoperable.
You’re here reading the Iridescent Ordinary because deep down, you know there is something ready to be kindled--something deeper for you to excavate. You’re here where we talk about creating more pockets of meaning and spaces of intention in your every day, because, well, you’ve either got a strong daily practice game, or are looking to level up, or even figure out how to start.
We’ve been looking at Kaizen, a process of constant improvement. You can embrace a Kaizen way of life simply by bending down and trying to reach your toes everyday—provided you do it daily, you will undoubtedly continue to get better as you go along.
Another way to look at this is known as the 1% rule: ask nothing more of yourself than to be 1% better than you were yesterday. That hardly even seems like an effort—a measly 1%. A penny on a dollar, a dollar on one hundred. But follow the math, 1% compounded gets bigger over time.
Pretend we’re talking about money, and we start with $100. With 1% interest (improvement) accruing daily, you’ll have $101 on day two, no biggie— but watch what happens over the first ten days: your daily 1% effort has netted you a 10% improvement or increase.
Keep going, keep slogging, because after 6 weeks, you’re up to a 50% improvement/increase. One teeny weeny percent per day.
Don’t stop now, because after another 6 weeks (three months total) you’re up by 150%. While I understand that money isn’t compounded daily, in this case your efforts are. These charts are a great way to visualize what a little effort can return.
Let’s go back to the toe touching example. One percent improvement from day to day is barely perceptible, but after 3 weeks, you’ll be 25% closer to the ground than the day you started. This is how language learning apps work, in just a few minutes per day, they attempt to train your brain into learning a foreign language. You can do this with almost any aspect of your life: learning a new skill, improving your health, clearing out clutter, writing your memoir; or with less goal-oriented pursuits like meditation, journaling, reading, etc.
Let’s say you’re working on eradicating crap from your life, ie.: caffeine, sugar, alcohol, meat, tobacco, social media, TV, etc etc. Let’s say cold turkey doesn’t do it for you. How about embracing the 1% concept, but in reverse. If you normally drink 20 ounces of coffee, leave two sips in the cup. (This is not a substitute for medical advice). If you normally indulge in 75 minutes of social media, you needn’t even cut back by a full minute, just 45 seconds less.
Ask only of yourself today, that you are a wee bit better than you were yesterday.
There’s another way to look at 1%. This isn’t so much results based, because fuck metrics.1 This 1% is rooted in your time, which means you're free to reach for your toes (literally or metaphorically) without the need to touch them.
So, instead of a daily 1% increase in effort, what if you gifted yourself 1% of your day. Listen, I know you’re busy: job, kids, caretaking, exercising, meal prep, reading newsletters, laundry, cleaning dog poop out of the robot vac, paying bills—all of the things. But imagine indulging 1% of your waking time on any endeavor of your choosing. You can even go hardcore, and free yourself from the tyranny of achieving any sort of goal and just going in for pure pleasure.
Let’s say you sleep 8 hours every day. That means you’re awake for 16 hours, or 960 minutes. One percent of 960 is 9.6 minutes or 9 minutes and 36 seconds. I’m inclined to round up to ten, but you make the rules in your show.
Ten minutes a day, every day, devoted to doing a thing just for you. It could be anything: reading, journaling, playing, arting, weightlifting, working on your novel, taking a bath, meditating, wordle-ing. You get to decide. That’s over an hour per week.
Here’s some math:
9.6 minutes per day is 67.2 minutes per week or 288 minutes/4.8 hours per month and 3,504 minutes/58.4 hours per year.
10 minutes per day is 70 minutes per week, 5 hours per month, and almost 61 hours per year.
Since one of our standard units of time is a 40 hour workweek (what does that even mean anymore), a measly 1% of your day adds up to one and a half work weeks over the course of a year. Imagine clocking in to your job for a week and a half and being able to focus on the thing that gives you joy instead of your work? Imagine that?
Decide what. Decide when. Decide how. And go for it. Set a timer (if you have a smartphone, you have the technology.) Nine minutes and thirty-six seconds. No emails, no texts, no distractions, just you.
I know, I know. Easier said than done.
Don’t make any decisions today.
I’m merely asking you to consider this proposition.
Like everything, change, even small change, begins with awareness. Start by noticing the little blocks of 1% of time that fall away like scraps. Ask yourself how you can collect and preserve them for yourself.
We’re going to be discussing this more and formulating a plan to start your 1% project on June 21.
Not fuck the metric system—that’s the best thing ever, yet we Americans insist on staying in an abusive, complicated relationship with inches/pounds when a sweet, steady, lifelong romance with a metric boo is standing outside our door with flowers waiting for us to hop on board the easy life of base ten measurements.