James Clear wrote a great book called Atomic Habits. One of the things I most love about it is the fact that he quantified our +1 game for us. 🤓
If you get just 1% better each day for a year, do you know how much better you’ll be at the end of the year?
What’s your guess?
1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% 1% + 1% for 365 days = …
Answer: At the end of that year of 1% daily improvements, you won’t be 3.65 times better, you’ll be 37 (!!!) times better than when you started.
That, my friends, is the magic of compounding as applied to Optimizing. Little things matter. A lot.
But get this.
James tells us that if we REALLY want to see the impact of those tiny little incremental Optimizations, we often need to look back over the span of 2 or 5 or 10 years.
So, I busted out a Google Spreadsheet and did that math as well.
You know how much better you’ll be at the end of the second year of 1% daily Optimizing? 1,400 times better.
Then things get really interesting. Drop another year on that streak of yours and you’re now 53,405 times better. One more year (we’re now 4 years in) and you’re 2,017,828 times better. Five years? You’re 76,240,507 times better. (Hah. Nice work!!)
Shall we run it 10 years out? OK. Let’s.
Result: After a decade of compounding tiny little +1% gains, you’re now officially 5 QUADRILLION times better. (Laughing. With pure joy.)
All that to say: Again, little things matter. A lot. Especially when we compound them over time.
Of course, those numbers are absurd. But… THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT!! (Laughing some more.)
Harvard Professor (of the Psychology of Possibility) Ellen Langer comes to mind. She tells us that although our potential may (or may) not expand into the realm of quadrillions, it’s UNKNOWABLE. Literally.
It’s impossible to know what we’re capable of until we actually let go of the limits and get to work. On what? Not on the huge, “massive action!!!” life-changing things per se.
On the little things. The tiny little incremental Optimizations that, when aggregated and compounded, lead to very big things.
+1. +1. +1.
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