Sarah Stultz: The power of trying to improve 1% each day

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

In a matter of just a few days, the sun will set on 2022, and it will be time to embark on 2023.

As the year draws to a close, I am reminded of the goals I made for myself for this year, how I reached some of these goals and abandoned others mid-year.

Email newsletter signup

While I may not have achieved every goal I had for myself, I did make some progress on most of my goals and am at least moving in the right direction.

I am reminded of a great principle I once heard about aiming to improve even just 1% every day.

While 1% may not seem like a lot itself, at the end of the year all the days of 1% improvement will add up, and you will be far better than when you started.

In fact, acclaimed author James Clear of “Atomic Habits” says if you can get just 1% better at something each day then by the end of a year, you will be 37 times better.

That can be applied to any goal, whether it’s training for a race, losing weight, taking time for self-care, making time to read good books, saving more money, spending more time with family, and the list goes on and on.

As I think about what might have discouraged me from reaching some of my goals this year, I think it’s clear this principle was out of mind.

There’s nothing to say you can’t improve 2% one day and maintain the next day, but the point of the matter is that little steps of improvement add up to equal large success.

Speaking for myself, I think I need to do more to celebrate these smaller improvements along the way so I can remember the progress I’ve made. It’s also OK to make smaller improvements than maybe what you have done in the past.

Again, you are moving in the right direction, and that’s what matters.

Do you plan on making any New Year’s resolutions this coming year?

While I am someone who enjoys making a few goals at the start of every year — and plan to do so again this year — I also recognize that we don’t have to wait until the New Year’s holiday to make goals.

If you find yourself faltering from the goals you set three months down the line, set a new goal and begin again to achieve it.

Or if you never set New Year’s resolutions and want to begin in February, that’s OK, too!

Just keep moving in the right direction — a little at a time.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.