Every year, we set out new goals to be achieved by the end of the year, and yet most of us could not achieve them. There are two plausible reasons out of many that render our goals useless: one, we set goals that are too unreasonable to achieve; two, we set goals which are reasonable to achieve but we screw up one way or another. Looking at the bright side, at least you have laid down some goals for this new year, some might not even think about them. Needless to say, either you have goals or not, here I have one of many ways to achieve them with a piecemeal approach called ‘one percent rule’.

One percent rule exploits the magic of exponential growth, ‘scaffolding’ and consistency in order to make our goals achievable. It is a step-by-step plan to get to what you want with efforts line up within your capabilities.

Let us look at the Maths behind this rule,

Let’s say we want to start exercising everyday, we start with a small goal of exercising 30 minutes per day. In the first day, we should have exercised for 30 minutes. The next day should be 30.3 minutes due to the compounding effect of the one percent rule (30×1.01=30.3). The following day would be 30.6 minutes (30.3×1.01=30.6).

In general, we will use this formula to calculate the time that we spent doing an activity based on the one percent rule:

x=A*(1.01)^n, where x is the total time spent on an activity after n days with the initial time spent of A. The one percent rule does not seem obvious in the first few attempts, but let’s say we take our n to be 75 (after three months of work-out), we get 63.27 minutes from 10*(1.01)^100, which is approximately an hour of exercising and twice as much compared to the first time. Plus, throughout the course of three months, we have accrued a total of 11202 minutes (186 hours) of work-out time, that is a lot! 

In just a mere three months, the one percent rule can make a person work out for twice the initial time. Although it might seem small at first, but that is the magic of exponential growth, it takes time.

However, if you believe that you are capable of doing more from every single session of exercise, go ahead and define the ‘one percent’ yourselves. The ‘one percent’ here meant a small increment that is reasonable and within your capabilities that would not wear you out in the long run. For instance, you can add one minute to your exercise session, then you can exercise for an hour within a month. But, do not overestimate your abilities and your willpower, they might turn on your when you are least expected. Listen to the voice inside you, and push it slightly. Hence, take it step by step- a small step by another. That is the miracle of scaffolding.

What happens now after we hit our desired target of exercising 1 hour per day? Maintain it. But how? When you are exercising according to the one-percent rule, you are already indirectly cultivating a new habit in you. A habit needs a consistent effort of around a month to nurture, and so you need not to increase nor decrease your effort, just let your newly formed habit take over. That is the wonder of consistency.

On the other hand, the one-percent rule can also be applied in the opposite manner when you want to quit a certain habit or addiction. There are many other ways to do so, but this is another way that is do-able.

Taking my case for example, I watch around 3 hours of Youtube per day, that is 180 minutes that I wasted every single day. In efforts to curb this issue, I will apply the one-percent rule in the opposite manner. By using the given formula,

x=A*(0.99)^n, it is similar to the one above but now I am decreasing one-percent instead of increasing it. It also gives a similar effect if I apply it after three months. A whooping decrease 95.29 minutes of watch-time, giving me an extra hour and half to do more productive stuffs. Although I still watch 84 minutes of Youtube every day after this, the watch time will still decrease significantly. The principles are more or less the same.

One-percent rule is by far more logical and realistic to apply in comparison to many others. If you want to try out something new this year or have a goal in mind to achieve, give this rule a go and see the effects of it.

What are your goals for this new year? Do you have another approach in achieving your goals? Leave them down in the comments below.

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