HARNESS THE POWER OF 1% MARGINAL GAINS
When you’ve been dealing with health issues for a while, you’re desperate to find something that works. You research endlessly to find the device, the supplement, the diet that will move the needle.
And often, these things seem to “work” for “other people.” Someone who has your diagnosis swears by a certain gizmo, or magnesium, or chiropractic and so on.
This way of thinking can keep you chasing treatments and adding to a growing list of support tools without anyone thing being THE thing that gets you better.
We need to approach health cultivation like we would achieving excellence in any area. In his book “Atomic Habits”, James Clear tells the story of how the British Cycling team went from being so bad that a top bike manufacturer refused to sell them bikes, to one of the top performing cycling teams in the history of the sport in 6 years.
Instead of simply focusing on the obvious, the coach who took over the team relentlessly looked for small improvements to make in often unexpected and overlooked areas. The aggregation of these tiny improvements added up to dominance in the sport and unparalleled performance.
James Clear refers to these 1% marginal gains in the context of good habits. Just like compound interest will grow your savings exponentially over time, good habit may not seem to do much in the short-term but in the long-term can completely change the trajectory of your health and your life.
When it comes to health creation, in addition to changing habits, I would add that we can also make these gains through one-off or infrequent “upgrades.” Installing black out blinds in your bed room is really a one-time deal, you don’t really have to think about them when you close them for the night. Replacing non-stick cook ware with less toxic materials is similarly a “one and done” project for the most part and these also contribute immensely to the aggregation of marginal gains.
One helpful side-effect of thinking this way means that we can correct the tunnel vision most of get when trying to get better. We may keep doubling down on a certain area, like diet or supplements, because we received a benefit when we first made a change. But looking for improvements to make in unexpected places, we diversify our health practice portfolio, which I’ve found is often very helpful.