I want to start this post giving credit where credit is due. I didn’t come up with this on my own I have an old friend from chiropractic college which has been posting to his social media about getting once percent better each day. This friend, besides being a chiropractor, does some motivational speaking so his message isn’t just to his patients but to anyone looking to improve their lives. I have to admit, I first thought this was a bit lame but the more I have thought about it I have come to realize this message of working towards one percent better each day could become life changing. I understand the idea, the analytical part of my brain has a hard time rationalizing getting once percent better each day at anything. By the end of the year are you really going to get 365% better at playing hockey, and how would you measure that anyway? For me, I understand the idea of getting once precent better as setting small goals over small periods of time in order to reach a big goal in the course of a long stretch of time.
This time of year many of us reflect on our past year and think about our future. We compare where we were a year ago and think realize those goals we set out for ourselves we weren’t able to achieve. I, and perhaps you too, find ourselves guilty of thinking too big in terms of the change we want in our lives. We say things like I want to loose 30 pounds next year or I want to double my income by this time next year and when a year has passed and we have failed, again, we don’t do a proper autopsy to find out why. For many of us we fail because we set our sights too high, too soon, without a proper plan on how to get there. The guy who wants to loose 30 pounds but he had been in a gym in 20 years or the gal who want to double her income but she is making coffee at Starbucks while sitting on a masters degree in accounting. It is easy to get discouraged when you fail at meeting big goals but by setting and meeting small goals, one percent goals, you get to check off small victories and can be encouraged to strive on.
We do this with our patients many times, perhaps we talked about this with you. My father likes to say “yard by yard is hard but inch by inch is a cinch.” The message rings true when we start with a patient who has been struggling with pain for weeks or months sometimes improvement can come slowly. Many of theses patients are looking for immediate relief but we look for any positive change as an improvement and sign they will get better. This attitude helps to encourage the patient and is a good sign they should recover given more time. This same strategy can be applied to improving your daily life, inch by inch not yard by yard. I talked to a patient about this recently in regards to stretching. Stretching is incredibly frustrating because you can stick with it every day and see little to no improvement in a few weeks or even a several months. Stretching can be so important to help your physical health though, and as I told him, stick with it every day results will come sometimes in small barely noticeable changes but they will come.
A few years ago I decided I want to start running regularly, I knew it would be difficult to both get to a place where my body and mind would set running as a regular routine. I didn’t start running by going out for three miles my first time, I started with a slow jog and some walking for twenty minutes and I strived to do that three times a week. In the early months I looked for reasons to skip it but I continued to push on. Week by week I tried to run faster and longer, three days a week became four and then five. It took me about a year but running became a regular daily routine for me and when I have to skip it I don’t feel good about it. I lost some weight but still haven’t hit my big goal but I have definitely reached little ones, inch by inch.
Putting your plan into the action of becoming one percent better each day isn’t hard but it takes discipline. It will help to start by setting down with a journal. Identify what areas of you life you need or want to get better in and set realistic goals in realistic time frame’s. The guy that wants to loose 30 pounds should start with the goal of joining a gym by the second week of January perhaps, give yourself some time but not too much time. The gal who is looking for more income should start with writing a curriculum vitae as soon as is possible or perhaps invest in some career counseling. It is also important to find someone to make yourself accountable to, someone who will positive support you but also push you to meet those goals. Track your progress in your journal and celebrate your one percent gains.
It would be a total cop-out to say I plan on being a better chiropractor in 2017 because woking on my knowledge and skills comes so easy to me. I am by no means perfect and I fully appreciate that in practice, or life, perfect doesn’t exist but working towards it is what we do. I don’t have to work on running but I do need to cut back on my snacking habits that is a goal for 2017. For me, this next year, I am planning on some personal growth. I have been reaching for unrealistic goals not setting one percenters. Everything I have mentioned here I have already started doing to help me make 2017 a year of consistent, once percent better, growth.
I ask you, and you don’t need to answer, what do you want to need to work on for the new year? When you look back on 2016 what things did you want to change but didn’t,? why? Was it because you planed poorly or failed follow though on your plan? Perhaps you set your goals too high with an unrealistic time frame and gave up too soon. What ever the cause, learn from your failures. Remember yard by yard is hard but inch by inch is a cinch. This year write down your big goal but plan on meeting it by becoming one percent better at a time. If you need some help give shoot me an email. I am not a counselor nor am I a motivational speaker but I can give a few pointers. Additionally if pain is holding you back from your goals we have a few solutions for that.