1% Improvement and Boiling Water at 100 Degrees Celsius

One of the books that truly inspired and changed my mindset is Atomic Habits by James Clear. I’m fascinated by the mindset about 1% improvement.

“Real change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of small decisions or habits that over time accumulate into remarkable results.”

“Improving by just 1% is not always noticeable but can be extremely significant in the long run. The overall concept is that if you can become 1% better every day for one year, you’ll end up 37 times better than you were at the beginning of the year.”

So, the basic principle is to be 1% better every day, which may not show its effects in the short term but will have a tremendous effect in the long run.

Exercising for 15 minutes a day won’t give you six-pack abs in a week and may not significantly reduce your weight in a month, but its benefits will be felt and visible in the long term.

We don’t have to do something drastically and massively change ourselves. We should not suddenly start exercising for 2 hours a day, expecting to see results in a short period. If that’s what we do, the outcome may not be motivating, but instead, we may feel burdened by the exercise.

We can start with a 1% improvement in any form as long as it is good to do. Personally, I implement this 1% improvement effort in various activities and with diverse goals.

Every day, I make it a habit to exercise for at least 15 minutes (currently averaging 30 minutes per day). Then, I make it a habit to attend programming language (Python) training for at least 30 minutes three times a week. I practice Daud fasting (alternate-day or intermittent fasting) every other day. After that, I have a routine of learning DevOps (currently learning Docker from Manning Publications), writing a blog every day (in Indonesian and English), making video blogs twice a week, investing in stocks once a week, and reciting and memorizing 2 verses of the Quran every day.

Some of these habits I have been doing for a long time, while some I started only a few months ago. For example, regular exercise, Daud fasting, programming learning, and Quranic verses memorization started only in December 2022.

Although I have been doing these activities for only a short time, their positive effects are already starting to show. At first, I could only exercise for 5-10 minutes a day, but now I can endure exercising for 30 minutes or more. I never thought that I could memorize certain verses in the Quran, but now I am in the process of memorizing four surahs from Juz 30. There is a lot of new knowledge from the training I attend, and I have gained many new experiences.

It’s only been three months, not even a year. From small things done routinely, they eventually become good habits that we hope for.

Many of us stop making good habits just because we haven’t seen the desired results yet. Exercise, investing, eating healthy foods, learning new knowledge, and many other things do not continue because they are considered a waste of time and do not provide a visible impact.

However, boiling water occurs at 100 degrees Celsius, not 35, not 60, and not 80-90 degrees. It is true that the water is already hot even if its temperature is only 50-60 degrees, but it has not reached the boiling point yet. That means if we want to boil water, we have to wait until it reaches 100 degrees Celsius before we can get boiling water. We need time and process to get the desired results. Don’t give up immediately if what we do hasn’t achieved the intended results. It may just be a matter of time.

For the past two days, I’ve been watching videos about learning a foreign language from Steve Kaufmann. The videos are relatively simple, but they inspire me to continue my plan to learn a foreign language. In addition to Steve Kaufmann’s videos, I also watched some videos on TedX and the Polyglot community (people who master several languages) and listened to tips for learning a foreign language.

Last year, I started learning Spanish. This year, I am trying to learn Arabic so that I can reach the level of conversation and support my efforts to continue memorizing the Quran.

Maybe I cannot become a native speaker of a foreign language yet, but with the 1% improvement experience that I go through, I will be at a different understanding after a few months. Let’s say I only master 100 vocabulary words in Arabic now, but if I routinely learn Arabic every day, I will have additional vocabulary words in a few months.

Keep up the spirit of improving quality, even if it’s only 1% improvement.

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