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Five Percent Better

Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

Who doesn’t want to be rational and able to make right decision at the right time?

Our self-motivation is always behind us to change ourselves. If we are night owls, we seek to become early risers. If we’re procrastinator, we look to become doers. If we are always late for a date, we look to be early. It is through the process of refinement that we learn new habits. We want to eliminate our weakness, and improve little more.

This is of course a laudable goal and one of my prime reasons for existence. But the self-starters among us have probably run into same kind of problem: We don’t actually follow on one thing we know will make us better. We don’t eat broccoli. We get a little too robotic. We get up at 830 when we said we’d do 530 from here on out. We leave that writing until the last moment. In short, we are always 5 minutes late. The culprit I suppose is the thought that any change will happen quickly. But in reality, anything happens pretty damn slowly.

The mental model I think for improvement can be “5 percent better” model. If I can get 5% wiser and better every year, then I will be about twice as wiser as I am now in less than 15 years. (Go ahead, grab calculators). In less than 30 years, my return will be 4x.

This little mental trick of 5% yearly improvement is just a way to remind us that we are not going to wake up wiser/nicer/healthier/smarter tomorrow morning or the morning after.So if it is reading a book, learning to write, building a new business or loosing on some weight-the unnoticeable 5% improvement in short run will make a huge difference in long run.And just as importantly, if we backslide on a goal we’ve set or forget something we thought we’d learned well, then it’s really not the end of the world. We don’t need to give up and call it hopeless. All we have to do is figure out where we slipped, re-double efforts, and go after it again. All we need is 5% a year to become 4x better in adult lifetime. Every year then we’ll look back at some part of our old self and wonder how we could’ve been so dumb. And one day, in less than 30 years, we’ll look back and see our old self as almost unrecognizably stupid.

What more we could ask for?


Five Percent Better was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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