This is one of the most important topics in self-improvement approached in a slightly different way. When it comes to creating positive change in your life or the world, the most important factor is always consistency. But it’s not good enough to be consistent most of the time, you need to be consistent all of the time. Committing to doing something 98% of the time is incredible, but that extra 2% to get to 100% is disproportionately valuable not only from the results you can generate, but from the effort required to do it as well.
First let me bring in an example from a book I just finished, “How Will You Measure Your Life” by Clayton Christensen. He talked about the idea of making exceptions, and if you allow yourself to make a concession once it opens the door to making more excuses in the future. This means that you need to use a lot of energy to stay disciplined because you’ve established that “not doing it” is an option.
And then let’s also reflect on David Meltzer’s rule of Zeroing Out. Consistent behaviors compound on top of each other, allowing the same input to produce a larger output over time. But when you miss a day it’s like you throw a zero in that compounding equation and you have to start all the way back at the beginning again.
The way that I handle this, because of course there will be a day that you forget to do that thing, you need to affirm the original intention, and find a way to make up for the error. This allows you to bypass the “Zeroing Out” effect and justify that you didn’t make an excuse because you found a way to make yourself even again.
I know, doing something 100% of the time sounds difficult. But compared to 98% it is much more effective, and ultimately a lot easier.