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A Simple 3-Week Plan To Better Yourself 1% Every Day (That Will 100% Benefit Your Life)

A Simple 3-Week Plan To Better Yourself 1% Every Day (That Will 100% Benefit Your Life)

Change, especially the positive kind is not an easy task. There are a huge number of factors involved in any given aspect of life, and there are plenty of these aspects as it is. Well, Dave Brailsford, a trainer of the professional British cycling team, Team Sky, reasoned that given the fact that there are tons of little variables, one could improve a tiny bit in each one to make a big overall change. He said that through aggregation of marginal gains it is possible to overshoot the competition after a while. Making tiny 1% changes in things ranging from the comfort of the seats and weight of the tires of your car, to the most comfortable pillows that allowed athletes to get better rest, yielded impressive overall results – it took only 3 years for Sir Bradley Wiggins to become the first ever Brit to win the Tour de France.

By adopting this simple yet highly effective method of aggregation of marginal gains to our own life, we can start making a huge improvement in under a month. The theory is very straightforward – every day for the next 21 days you will make a small and manageable 1% adjustment to a particular aspect of your life, which will result in the development of 21 good habits that you can keep doing for years and years. All the changes are small and easy to make, yet within a few years you will be miles from where you are now in terms of physical and mental health, productivity and overall quality of life.

Day 0 – Make a firm decision right now

We all like to start things at the beginning of the week or the beginning of next month, but you should sit down right now and commit to the program. Make a firm decision to start making these small improvements first thing tomorrow.

Day 1 – Drink a couple of glasses of soda less

Pouring out coke

    Looking at the manufacturer’s official website we find that a can of Coca-Cola has 139 calories, and most sugary sodas are around the same. The can contains less soda than two average-sized glasses. That means that by drinking only a couple of glasses less you are cutting down on over 150 calories and 40 grams of sugar a day, leading to very slow, but steady weight loss if all aspects of your diet remain roughly the same. You can drink more water instead.

    Day 2 – Go outside and walk for 30-40 minutes

    An hour of walking at a normal steady pace will burn between 200 and 300 calories, depending on your weight size – heavier people burn more calories during the same exercise as skinnier people. This means that 30 minutes will burn 100-200 calories. It’s not that difficult to find the time for a short walk, and you can even break it down into 2-3 walking sessions of 10-20 minutes during the day. Combine it with less soda and you get about 250-350 calories less every day without changing much at all.

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    Day 3 – Eat a fresh salad before lunch and dinner

    You don’t have to replace your regular meals with salads, just make sure you eat a medium-sized bowl of fresh salad – plenty of veggies and no toppings except spices and olive oil – before lunch and dinner. Not only do you get plenty of much-needed micronutrients, but the fiber in the vegetables will also make you feel full, so you won’t be able to gorge on unhealthy and highly caloric food as much.

    Day 4 – Read 10-20 pages of a book

    It has been shown time and time again that reading has plenty of psychological and even mental health benefits. Not to mention that it makes you more eloquent and broadens your horizon. Even if you are a slow reader it won’t take you more than about 30-60 minutes to read 10-20 pages. Do this every day and you’ll be going through at least a book or two per month. You can start with some of these.

    Day 5 – Start doing bodyweight workouts

    Home workout

      Getting a good workout in doesn’t require anything but good will and 20-30 minutes of free time. You can do this type of bodyweight workout 2-3 times a week to reap some great health benefits, get a sexier body and boost your confidence.

      Day 6 – Warm up your body and stretch in the morning

      Doing 3-5 minutes of jumping jacks or mountain climbers when you get out of bed is a good way to warm up your joints and it gets the heart pumping. You can follow this with some 10-15 minutes of static stretching. You can do these after your workout on your workout days instead of in the morning. Stretching has numerous health benefits and is fairly easy to do.

      Day 7 – Devote 30 minutes to learning a new skill

      There are probably a bunch of skills that you would love to have right now. Whether it’s work related, general skills that can be applied to a broad range of things like team management or conflict resolution, we could all stand to learn something new. By devoting just 30 minutes a day to learning a new skill you will have learned the basics and gotten fairly decent at it within a few months.

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      Day 8 – Replace one of your regular snacks with fruit and nuts

      We reach for snacks a lot of times during the day, whether it’s because we’re a bit hungry, sad or just bored. The next time you feel like you need a snack reach for a couple of apples, a banana, a pear or a cup of berries, combined with a handful of walnuts or almonds. Nuts have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and can lower the risk of heart disease, while certain berries have great amounts of antioxidants, and various fruit contains plenty of vitamins, minerals and fiber. It’s a healthy snack and it keeps you feeling full for longer.

      Day 9 – Get some vitamin D and fish oil supplements

      Supplements

        In a perfect world we would have access to all that the body needs, but this is not the case. Most people lack omega 3-fatty acids in their diet – these keep the heart healthy, the skin looking young and your mind sharp – and hardly get enough sun exposure, which limits vitamin D production which is responsible for bone density and keeping normal testosterone levels. These supplements are relatively cheap and will ensure that you stay healthy despite common dietary deficiencies.

        Day 10 – Use moisturizer after you shower, shave or wash your face

        Keeping your skin as soft, smooth and elastic as possible is the key to looking and feeling young even as you get older. A lot of people, particularly men, fail to utilize moisturizers on a regular basis. This means that after washing your skin will dry out and even become flaky, becoming less soft and smooth over time. By using a good moisturizer on a regular basis you will ensure that your skin becomes fresh and soft, and remains that way for a long time.

        Day 11 – Do 10-15 minutes of running/cycling/ jump rope training

        If you’ve stuck to the changes you’ve made, you will already be walking a bit more, warming up and stretching and doing a couple of short workouts a week. However, in order to ensure good cardiovascular health you will need to elevate your heart rate and keep it in an elevated state for a certain amount of time. You don’t have to be exact about it – as long as you do some running, cycling or jump rope training for about 10 minutes 2-3 days a week you will significantly lower the risk of heart disease.

        Day 12 – Brush and floss your teeth after dinner and before bed

        An important yet often overlooked part of overall health is your oral health. Tooth decay can cause a host of problems, extreme pain being one of them, and can cost you a lot to repair if things go out of hand. A lot of food gets stuck in your teeth after big meals, and the bacteria do the most damage if you forget to brush before bed and leave them to eat away at your teeth overnight. With this simple habit you will have a beautiful smile for a long time.

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        Day 13 – Listen to some relaxing music and do breathing exercises for 10 minutes after work

        Listening to music on couch

          Once you come home from work it’s time to shift mental gears from busy and stressed to comfortable and relaxed. Music is an excellent stress reliever and when combined with some good breathing exercises can help you calm down and relax your body and mind fairly quickly. Just 10 minutes of this relaxing therapy a day and you will become much calmer and happier in the upcoming months.

          Day 14 – Do one thing that’s a bit outside of your comfort zone

          The best way to grow and improve is to step just outside your comfort zone. You can’t just do this with everything all at once, but doing one small thing that you don’t feel that comfortable with – speaking to a crowd, singing, etc – every week will make you become more relaxed with it and eventually help you overcome your fear of it. Focus on one thing until you get comfortable and then switch to something else. Start of small – e.g. speaking to five people – and graduate to something big over time – e.g. giving a toast at a celebration.

          Day 15 – Start a conversation with at least one random person during the week

          A lot of situations in our daily lives can be boring and even a bit awkward. By talking to a stranger while waiting in line or siting in a coffee shop you can actually become happier. Connecting with others keeps boredom at bay, lets you share your frustrations and get a few good laughs. Approach one random person a week and spark a conversation – who knows what interesting places it will take you.

          Day 16 – Get a foam roller and massage your muscles for 5 minutes before bed

          Foam rollers are a great way to give yourself a good massage and reach all the tight muscles. A myofascial release, e.g. loosening up those tight knots in the muscle, is achieved, which will reduce muscle soreness, improve mobility and help you feel more relaxed. You can do it a few minutes before a workout or before going to bed to relax and prepare for sleep.

          Day 17 – Watch 15-20 minutes of TED talks every other day

          TED talks give you insight into a variety of different topics, can inspire you, make you think, and as with books, broaden your horizon. Here are some of the most popular ones that you can listen to every other day, or if you get a chance even one per day. Learning about different topics will come in small basic fragments, but will grow over time and even motivate you to do some further research on your own, thus gaining plenty of knowledge over time.

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          Day 18 – Read about body language and work on yours during the day

          Body Language

            Spend an hour or two during the weekend to do some research on body language and then try to improve yours at various times of the day. You want to have the body language of a confident and powerful person, to know which mistakes to avoid and read other people’s intentions to a degree. With time you will be able to exhibit confidence and become more assertive, tell if someone likes you or doesn’t like you by reading small queues and much more. “The Definitive Book of Body Language” by Barbara and Alan Pease is a good read.

            Day 19 – Take your partner somewhere nice at the end of the week or treat yourself to a nice night out

            It is important to keep your relationships strong, and if you don’t have a significant other it is important find yourself someone you can be close and intimate with. By taking one day out of the week, or even just once in two weeks if you’re busy and devoting it to the other person you will earn a lot of goodwill with them. On the other hand if you are single, go out and have some fun. Get a couple of friends to come with you and try to meet some new people – some of that confidence, experience in sparking up conversation with strangers and positive body language might come in handy. This will help you relieve stress and keep your relationship strong or help you overcome the fear of rejection and improve your love life.

            Day 20 – Shut off all the lights and electrical equipment before going to bed

            Lack of sleep is a common problem in the modern world and it can have a lot of negative side-effects. There are a lot of things that can get us distracted like computers and phones, but we also seldom create good sleeping conditions. Your room needs to be dark when you go to sleep – no music, background movies to help you dose of, just a couple of more YouTube videos or lights of any sorts. If you make this a habit, you will slowly begin to have more regular sleep patterns and sleep for the full 7-9 hours that you need to feel well-rested, focused and energetic.

            Day 21 – Take the day off from mundane life and get some quiet time for yourself

            Wolf resting in field

              Once or twice a month choose a day to be your rest day. Distancing yourself from everyday worries and other people and simply doing nothing can do a whole lot of good for you. It can be a weekend at the countryside, a fishing trip, sitting around the house watching an entire season of your favourite show or whatever else lets you get some privacy and relax. A completely relaxed day or two like that every month will go a long way towards improving your mental and physical health, which can be severely degraded by stress.

              Slow and steady wins the race

              If you follow this comprehensive guide and make a tiny lifestyle change every day for the next 21 days, you will end up with a host of very good habits that can help you make a huge overall improvement in terms of health, fitness, productivity, relationships and happiness. It’s all about sticking with these small changes for the long run and steadily improving over time. At one point you’ll look back and be amazed at how big of an impact these 1% improvements have made.

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              Ivan Dimitrijevic

              Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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              Last Updated on March 21, 2019

              11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

              11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

              Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

              You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

              But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

              To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

              It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

              “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

              The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

              In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

              Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

              1. Start Small

              The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

              Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

              Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

              Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

              Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

              Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

              It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

              Do less today to do more in a year.

              2. Stay Small

              There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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              But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

              If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

              When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

              I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

              Why?

              Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

              The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

              Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

              3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

              No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

              There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

              What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

              Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

              This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

              This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

              4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

              When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

              There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

              Peter Drucker said,

              “What you track is what you do.”

              So track it to do it — it really helps.

              But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

              5. Measure Once, Do Twice

              Peter Drucker also said,

              “What you measure is what you improve.”

              So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

              For reading, it’s 20 pages.
              For writing, it’s 500 words.
              For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
              For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

              Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

              6. All Days Make a Difference

              Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

              Will two? They won’t.

              Will three? They won’t.

              Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

              What happened? Which one made you fit?

              The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

              No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

              7. They Are Never Fully Automated

              Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

              But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

              What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

              It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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              The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

              It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

              It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

              8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

              Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

              Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

              When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

              The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

              Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

              9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

              The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

              Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

              You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

              But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

              So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

              If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

              This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

              The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

              Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

              10. Punish Yourself

              Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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              I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

              It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

              You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

              No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

              The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

              But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

              11. Reward Yourself

              When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

              Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

              The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

              After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

              If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

              Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

              If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

              In the End, It Matters

              What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

              When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

              And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

              “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

              Keep going.

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              More Resources to Help You Build Habits

              Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
              [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
              [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
              [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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