One of the greatest lessons of success is to go the extra mile. Do a little more and do it with a little more faith, a little more energy, a little more go-at-it-iveness, and a little more stick-to-it-iveness, a little more devotion, a little more determination. And behold, you will have changed yourself from a stand-in to a star. The difference is just a little change in attitude and a little more effort in the right direction. The results are tremendous though the difference may be as fine as a razor’s edge.
– How to Personally Profit From the Laws of Success – Sterling W. Sill
Recently, I was listening to someone talk about how effective it can be to focus on making only a 5% improvement in what we do. These are some of my thoughts and wonderings about that.
What would your relationships be like if you made a 5% improvement in how respectful, pleasant or compassionate you are towards others?
How much happier would you be if you gave just 5% more to someone in your life (more time, better listening, more attentiveness or more loving actions)?
How much more would you accomplish if you devoted just 5% more time to your “to do list”? (Personally, I like to call it my Action Items list so it feels more interesting than “work”.)
How much further would you get through that book you’re studying if you put just 5% more time to reading?
One of the challenges many of us have is that when we decide that we’d like to improve something in our life, we say that we’re going to start right away full steam ahead. For example, if you would like to begin an exercise program, you decide that starting tomorrow (or Monday), you are going to exercise every day for 30 minutes. Wow! That sounds really great. There is one small challenge that I’ve noticed — it can be very difficult to go from nothing to 100% overnight. So, instead of getting that exercise program going, you get frustrated and reaffirm that you didn’t make it. There is a strong tendency to simply giving up.
What would happen if instead you started at about 5% of where you’d like to end up? If the end desire is to exercise 3 times per week for 30 minutes each, that works out to 90 minutes per week of exercise. It might be pretty easy to start the first week by intending to exercise 4.5 minutes (OK — maybe 5 minutes). The rational part of your mind is saying “that’s ridiculous” or some other downgrading comment because it sounds so small. And, yet, 5 minutes of exercise, if you’ve been getting ZERO minutes so far, is much better than continuing in the “non-effective” pattern you’ve been in. When you find it easy to exercise for 5 minutes each week, then increase that by another 5% of your goal – another 5 minutes per week – making it 2 days of 5 minutes each. In merely 18 weeks, you are at 90 minutes. And, since you started small, you’ve found it much easier to shift your schedule and routine to fit it in. You have now naturally and easily created a program that you can continue for a long time. One small 5% step at a time.
Certainly, it seems strange to talk about a percentage increase with respect to being more respectful, pleasant or compassionate. And, yet, the 5% simply tells us that we only need to start small. Maybe 5% means stopping before we say that snide comment – just once this week. Maybe 5% means that we become more aware of how we treat others. Then, the next 5% improvement might be to begin to shift our behavior one interaction at a time. Small 5% increases are easier to manage, and therefore it’s more likely we actually succeed.
Here’s to your 5% this week!
What is an area you’d like to improve this month or this coming year?
Decide what a 5% increase might look like for that area and decide to take that 5% small step forward — starting NOW.
Here’s a link to an article that talks about this from a little different perspective. Near the bottom of the article, you can find some statements in “The Need for Action” that can help you further define your 5%.