An intro to the 1% rule
Have you ever turned up to an event or a work meeting totally unprepared and had to “just wing it”?
You will often get away with this approach and maybe even tell everyone how awesome it is to not care how things turn out.
I’m not suggesting you get all regimented about life, but today I am going to discuss the concept of putting a little bit of effort into developing fail-proof process goals, that can be adapted to any facet of your life.
You can start off by applying it to something relevant right now (like United Energy Around the Bay) and over time, it will become your own goal blueprint.
Back in 2006, I was keen to become a better mountain biker. I had really enjoyed getting into the competitive racing scene and whilst I was fit, my race craft and skills needed a more investment. It all looked like a lot of work with some scary skills to learn.
But this self talk is unproductive. I knew I had to come up with a plan that would get me to a place that was better than the one I was in. It was my dream, my goal, my vision and there was no short-cut to getting there.
So I developed a process that kept me aligned and on track with my goal every single day. It wasn’t hard, it wasn’t expensive, it did not require superhuman effort – just simple execution and review.
The process was called ‘The 1% rule’
The 1% rule is about breaking big things down into small chunks. It turns something big and scary into something manageable and achievable. It works to create a series of success which builds forward momentum and the desire to stay on-track with my end goals.
My goals at the time of February 2006 were to, improve my technical MTB skills, improve my fitness on the bike, improve my finishing position in races and to learn as much as I could.
To make this more achievable I developed my 1% rule: 1 task at a time, 1 day at a time, 1 week at a time, 1 month at a time. Improve one thing at a time by 1% and in one years time, you just have to be better.
There is no failure if you simply adhere to the performance process of the 1% rule.
Following this process will create a domino effect into so many other areas – the learning and growing never stops. I still use it today.
People often say that it seems like I never get a rest, and this is correct.
With the 1% rule you are always moving forward, learning, evolving, building and investing. Even when you are ‘at ease’ there is purpose to that – it’s how you sell it to yourself. We spoke about ‘reframing’ last week.
“It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs.” Jillian Michaels
You’re welcome to employ my 1% rule or devise your own process.
Setting up a mission statement is a simple way keep you focused on the outcome.
For example, if your goal was to get out of bed at 6am and train three times a week without fail then create a foolproof process that takes out the emotion and failure.
Your mission statement could be: Less time planning more time doing – don’t think just do.
To align yourself with this statement, you need to develop processes that removes the ‘thinking’ and creates more ‘do’ in your life. It could look like:
- No pm caffeine – so you can get to bed on time
- Get to bed at 9:00am and read a book – so you can fall asleep by 9:30pm
- Prepare your equipment, lights, bike, clothes the night before – so you can wake up and get ready
These are simple, achievable processes to remove the emotion and ensure that you don’t fail.
If you introduce emotion, you might wake up and say “I don’t feel like training”. Asking yourself if you feel like training is probably going to be met with a ‘no‘ a majority of the time. This is why aligning your goals with processes will deliver success and results.
Too often we allow ourselves an out with a check in to our emotions.
Ask any successful person or athlete how many times they felt like working hard or training in the rain and I bet you they will respond with,”not many.”
With my 1% rule, came the offshoot of mini processes such as “do something, it is better than nothing”. Some days, even achieving 1% seems tough, so I needed a backup process if that one failed. Of course these became mantras over time as well.
If it all seemed to much to handle on a day, I then allowed myself to stay accountable by just doing something.
Instead of letting emotion take over and say “stuff it, that’s it I have failed today”, I’ll just do something that takes me forward.
If I was ill and couldn’t do the training session, I then decided that my something today had to be rest, and own it with no regrets. This was adding to my bank of fitness by investing and sitting on it to create interest to draw upon later when I was ready to go again.
When reviewing your processes, it is important to remove emotion and have a few backup processes to keep you in check.
Attaching goals to the processes
Let’s apply the 1% rule to riding the United Energy Around the Bay 210km ride in a 10 hour ride time as our goal. Without getting complex, let’s assume you have addressed your 12 week planning on week two.
The 1% rule could be as simple as this:
- Ride 150 km a week and increase your distance by 1% each week.
- Ride one more hill than I normally do on each ride.
- Ride 1% faster on each ride, and if this is not physically possible, imagine my effort is 1% faster
- Stretch and do core for five mins every day and do one extra push up each day.
And so on…
In the end the processes just becomes a way of life. Stop thinking and just get doing.
Removing fear by using the processes
Processes allow us to develop tick boxes to check off and feel accomplishment without fear of failure.
When we start out with a new goal, our motivation is high, we have invested our energy and probably contributed financially as well. At this stage, it’s happy days and for at least 2–3 weeks the drudgery of sticking to a training plan is fun and exciting.
The first day you decide to sleep in or skip the long ride may be because ‘the wind is up’. Then you do it again, and before you know it, it feels like you are not progressing you hear yourself say, “oh well, I guess I can always change to a shorter ride instead.”
Processes can become daily accountability check ins, daily affirmations and daily mantras
Develop 1, 2 or even 3 simple processes that you can tick off every day.
- Eat food for fuel and recovery. Food is medicine is my mantra
- Achieve seven hours sleep each night so I can recover and have the energy to achieve my goals
- Do what I say I will – no excuses
You can see that these three processes are broad and have no emotion. They are mantras and allow for flexibility. Aligning these with clear goals will help you achieve them.
When I talk to my clients about their goals and developing processes I ask them to align themselves with one massive broad and all encompassing goal. When you are in the moment this becomes a process – to have “no regrets”.
How do you turn this into a process?
You are riding along. You cannot hold the 30 km/h pace of the group you are in, but you know you can do the distance. You have stuck to your other fueling processes, your mental re-framing is healthy and you are thinking good thoughts. Your bike is running smoothly.
You just can’t keep up and suddenly you are doubting yourself – you feel crap. As that thought enters your mind, you need to remind yourself that no matter what you will finish and have no regrets. You can handle going slower, backing off to 26 km/h and finishing, albeit an hour behind this group.
So as you realign yourself with your newly adapted goal, you promise to finish and leave no stone un-turned. This brings yourself in alignment with your fueling processes and thought processes, and bike handling processes and all of a sudden you are 15 km from the finish and the reality is you did it and you only felt emotionally crap for 10 mins before you got yourself back together.
Now you are stoked. You reset and achieved. You have learnt that even when you don’t “feel” amazing, you can still get the job down by falling back on your check list of processes. Boom!
United Energy Around the Bay – 3 SIMPLE processes
Developing your accountable processes does not have to be extensive, and you may well forget them if there are too many. Keep it simple. Keep it controllable.
These three processes have many ‘sub processes’ that evolve from them such as bike maintenance, fueling your body, riding in big bunches and skills…so many!
Here are some examples that you may want to set for yourself:
1. Control the controllable
Bike, body, fuel, mental state, awareness, and skills. Control these and remain in alignment with them the whole time and you will finish.
2. Eat before you’re hungry and drink before you’re thirsty
Do you set an alarm on your garmin? Do you choose to drink every 1km or eat every 5km? Develop a process and practice this in training.
3. Move forward, and keep moving forward (take short breaks)
Refill bottles, eat on the go, ride slow if you have to but move forward as time builds up over a 210, 250 or 300 km day. Every 5 min stop could equal 45 mins of stopped time. That could mean being another 20 km up the road.
Reaching your goal need not be luck. It need not be rocket science either. By simply creating your own methodology, processes, mantras and ways to live by, you can always align yourself with the path to success and develop your own personal code to a great life.