A few years back, I traveled to Chicago and had an interesting conversation with my new friend for three hours. He was 68 and off to windsurf in Hawaii for two weeks. As I asked him about his greatest insight into life, he offered the following comment. “Nothing replaces sustained, incremental efforts compounded over time.”

When interviewing successful athletes, lawyers, entrepreneurs, artists, and parents, I find that his insight remains one of the great truths in life. And yet, only a few take advantage of such a simple solution to life’s sweet rewards.

More recently, we have considerable data to support the power of the one percent solution to change fundamental patterns in the brain. With incremental efforts over time, we can relieve anxiety, depression, ADD, sleep issues, and more. Let’s consider why the one percent solution is so powerful.

The Temptation of the 100 Percent Solution

Life will give us challenges. This is inevitable.

Many wait until the challenge has created considerable pain before considering a change. They are aware that a problem exists but aren’t motivated enough or believe that the problem is that important to warrant effort. Others seem oblivious to the mounting issues in their life despite everyone around them seeing the oncoming storm.

Regardless, most of life’s serious challenges have evolved gradually, with the unfortunate but consistent application of a poor habit. This culminates in pain.

And when we find ourselves in great pain, the mind (understandably) seeks immediate relief. The mind says, “Get me out of here now.” The pain of life is bearing down hard and fast, so everyone is tempted to seek immediate and instant solutions. They want the 100% solution right now.

Occasionally, these exist. Not often.

And typically, it’s a cheat. To think that you can reactively apply an intense, explosive burst of effort to resolve issues that have usually unfolded for years, acknowledged or not, is unrealistic. The 100% model does not align with reality but feeds into our growing, albeit unsatisfying, desire for instant gratification.

The One Percent Solution

The one percent solution is a stark contrast to the 100% approach. The 1% Solution is not about instant change. It’s not about a quick fix. It’s not about the illusion of change because I offer a dramatic, emotional statement.

In contrast, the 1% solution is just that: one percent. By application of effort today, we might make a one percent improvement. Maybe it takes a week to get that one percent, but if we are consistent and taking the right actions, one percent WILL happen. It’s almost guaranteed.

And how exciting is that? Wow! I’ll bet you can’t stay in your seat at the thought of a 1% return on your investments, your child’s behavior improving by 1%, or perhaps your anxiety decreases a smidge (we’ll call it 1%).

In reality, we should be excited! Because the repetition of similar efforts to keep building at 1% a day or even a week compounds over time. That’s the magic, of course.

It’s a small percentage, building on top of a small percentage, repeated over time, that builds fortunes, strong bodies, and healthy minds.

With personal change, clients often look for that big fix or the “thing” that makes a difference. Honestly, almost any healthy habit will make a difference. It’s just that not many folks keep it up. Whether meditating, walking, breathing, journaling, exercising, or simply appreciating life, most individuals surrender because they are dissatisfied with incremental change.

Once we appreciate the complexity of this fantastic body/mind organism, we can see that the fight for homeostasis is essential. We must work with it if we are to achieve success. Thus, regardless of our desires, we must establish a game plan to work with our bodies and minds to support gradual but consistent growth if we are to achieve our desired outcomes.

As my friend stated, “Nothing replaces sustained, incremental efforts compounded over time.” Where would you like to see change or growth, personally or with your family? Identify your desire, then determine what you can do to apply incremental efforts over time. Our clinic sees children and adults transform their futures with this perspective and the accompanying action. Change is possible, not just for others, but for you. Learn more about what we do by visiting here.