In his book The ONE Thing, Gary Keller explains how doing only one thing, the most important thing, that will have the maximum impact, is all you need to succeed. You have to identify your one thing and focus on doing it.
Recently, I came up with an idea that is similar to the concept in the book. My idea is to become one step better every day. While this might not be the first time you have heard of it, this idea could actually make a big impact in the long run.
Be Better Than Yesterday
It makes sense that in order to achieve long-term success, you have to succeed in small ways. What is the best way to do that? Be more successful than you were yesterday.
The word “success” can mean different for you than it is to me. How can you be more successful than yesterday? By becoming better at your one thing every day.
So it basically a mixture of Keller’s concept with the one-step-better concept.
First, you need to decide what your one thing is. Then, you need to start working on it one day at a time.
You can apply this concept to any area of your life – job, health, relationships, business, career, etc. It doesn’t matter what your designation is. It doesn’t matter what work you do.
For instance, if you want to lose weight (say 5 Kgs, for example), you will have to work-out every day. Doing so will get you the results you want. But here’s the twist – in order to achieve your goal quicker and more effectively, you will have to do it better than yesterday. So if you ran 20 minutes on the treadmill today, run 21 minutes tomorrow. You don’t have to take a big step at once. You don’t have to run for 30 minutes straight away the next day. Instead, make a small change and run only for a minute more.
The concept of compound interest is applicable in all areas of your life, not just in finance or mathematics.
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.” – Albert Einstein
If you become one step better each day, you are adding it to your skill or effort to achieving your one thing. Your “one step” might seem insignificant today, but its effect compounded over time will show you incredible results.
In the previous example, you running just an extra minute will not seem to make any impact today. But, think about it a month from now or six months from now. It surely will have made a big impact then. You will be running for at least 50 minutes each day after a month, which means you will have burned a lot of calories by the end of the month. If you were still running for 20 minutes each day after 30 days, as you did on the first day, do you think the results would have been the same? Definitely not.
Do something each day that will make you better than yesterday. In the long run, you will see life-changing effects.
A Psychological Twist
I am not an expert on human psychology but I know that it will not be enough for our brains to take just a single step. Here’s why. Again, referring to the previous example, I don’t think you will run only one minute more the next day. You will be likely to run 2 – 5 minutes more.
Here’s how I know this from experience:
I run 5 days a week. I track my runs with my fitness band or with an app on my phone. My highest run was 8.8 Kilometers in about 1 hour 34 minutes. My goal was to set a new record of 10 Kilometers in 1 hour. In a few weeks, I made it to my target of 10 Kilometers. I saw my watch and I knew I had made it. But, here’s what happened next – I didn’t stop at 10 Kilometers. My brain kept telling me, “You can do more. Keep going!”. Even though I knew I had reached my goal, I didn’t stop at it. I went a little extra and completed 10.85 Kilometers in about 1 hour and 4 minutes.
I’ve seen and heard people having similar experiences like this. Our brains will automatically strive for more when we reach our limits. So when you take actions to become one step better, you will subconsciously be improving by more than just a single step. But you don’t have to think about that very much. Put your focus on the single step and the rest will happen itself. All you have to do is take action to make sure that you become better than yesterday.
Whatever it is that you do, do it better than yesterday. If you work at a job, do your job better than yesterday. If you have a business, sell more products or services and reach out to more people than yesterday. Take one step at a time and make sure that it is making you better.
Evaluate your actions each day. Did you become better at your one thing today than you were yesterday? Ask yourself this question every day. Remember, you are competing with yourself here. Make sure that the version of you today is winning and not the version of you yesterday.