Our life is like a heavy ocean liner; think the Titanic. We set a course quite early in our life and sail on it. Just as it was difficult to change the course of the Titanic quickly, so it is difficult to change the course of our life. If we are to avoid the proverbial iceberg in our life, we need to adjust our course early; the sooner the better.
The proverbial, unavoidable iceberg in our life is disease and aging. It is out there in front of us and mostly unknown. Will we age well? Will we avoid the big C? Diabetes? Heart disease? Alzheimer’s? Parkinson’s? The icebergs lurking in the water are many. We know they are out there. Some are lurking in our system due to genetic traits; some due to environmental factors.
In order to miss these icebergs, we need to make changes to the course of our life, but it is hard to do. It takes time to change course. This is where the 1% change comes into play.
A 1% change to the direction of a ship will not move it much off course at the beginning, but a few kilometres after the change is initiated, the ship will be at a substantially different place than it would have been if the change had not been made.
If we strive to make long-term and meaningful changes to our life, it is helpful to think in terms of 1% changes.
A simple example may be alcohol consumption. Most people enjoy a drink from time to time; some more than others. Reducing alcoholic consumption to zero is a huge change, but cutting one drink, or choosing to have one alcohol-free day, is a relatively small change that in the long-term will have a big effect.
Another good example is the money saved by buying one less specialty coffee a day. An average latte or similar specialty drink at Starbucks or any other of the many coffee shops around, is about $4. This is not a big amount of money in the grand scheme of things, but 2 drinks a day, every day adds up to almost $3,000 a year. A small, “1 percent”, change of skipping one drink, twice a week would lead to a savings of over $400 over the year.
For sedentary people, becoming more active may seem like a huge change. Adding a small amount of activity, perhaps one exercise class a week, may lead to a huge change to the course of one’s life. Adding exercise to our life is one of the most significant changes one can make to affect the course of life. The quality of one’s diet and eliminating smoking are the other two most significant factors.
If you think your life needs a change of course, don’t think of making huge changes. Make small, 1 percent adjustments. Over time, these will significantly change where you end up.