I can always tell when there are clouds in the sky even before the sun rises over the mountains behind my home. On those days, the sky appears bubblegum pink during pre-dawn hours. When the sky is clear, it remains jet black until it isn’t. An early sign for birds like me of another crisp California day in store.
It has been a week now since I’ve adopted the habit of waking up when my cat mews for food. That’s 6:15am to be exact. I don’t do it out of joy, let me tell you. Just this past Sunday, I was quite sore about it. I wanted to sleep in, cuddled next to my husband in the warmth of the sheets because it was the weekend. I remembered the slow mornings of 2020 and 2021, where we had nothing to do and my habits were “Sleep 10 hours each night” or “Wake up when you feel like it”. Sitting at the dining table, I was feeling quite sorry for a moment there, wondering why it is that I kept making myself do this.
But at the end of a writing session, I felt 100% better. I always do. It is the same feeling you get when you work out, and you hate yourself for it as you’re getting ready. But afterwards, you get that good-sore, the one that reminds you of the progress that was achieved, and it really does boost you. That is why I am forcing myself to get out of bed. It makes me 1% better.
If I could make any club in the world, it would be called: 1% Better Every Day Club. I am a firm believer in tiny changes having a great impact. I am also a firm believer in making the most out of every day. Now more than ever, I am reminded that each day is a gift. For the past four years, I have been living under the mantra of making myself 1% better every day.
What does 1% Better Look Like?
It doesn’t always have to be about progress or achievement. In 2018 I decluttered a lot of my stuff. In 2020, I quit a lot of my work. Last year, 1% better involved doing nothing, sleeping in, and relaxing as much as I can. I decided for 2022 that 1% better meant making the most out of life. Every body has their own goals, needs, and wants. I would recommend starting with jotting down what 1% better would look like. Feel free to use these list of questions to get your brainstorm going!
How to Be 1% Better Every Day?
After figuring out what 1% better would look like, I would begin by writing down things you can do to become the person you want to be. Let’s say you want to be in better physical shape. A few examples of 1% better include working out a certain number of days a week, getting in nature to absorb more vitamin D, taking supplements that your diet is missing out on, practicing better posture at work, eating less sugar and more fruits and vegetables, avoiding alcohol, and staying hydrated by drinking a lot of water.
Once you have a list of action items, I would start incorporating them into your daily schedule. Make them habits. Repetition is key. Hold yourself accountable by keeping a habit tracker. I use my Unbound Planner to track all my habits. You can just as easily track your habits on an Excel sheet. It doesn’t have to be expensive!
Lastly, set yourself up for success with rewards and motivations. For example, I had to get an outfit that made me feel and look good in order to establish my work out routine. And every morning when I get up to feed the cat, flipping that lever on the Balmuda kettle is the first thing I do. A mindful cup of pour over coffee is my motivation to stay awake! There should be no guilt attached to rewards and motivations. It is completely okay to make them part of the process, as long as you truly deserve it!
10 Things I Do Daily That Make Me 1% Better
There are many things I do daily to make myself 1% better. Here are my top ten!
+ Wake up early to write. Motivation: A mindful cup of pour-over coffee in a favorite mug (mine is made by RexDesign). I use the Balmuda kettle and a Hario V60. I have found over the years that writing goes on the back-burner whenever life got busy. Yet writing is really important to me. It is my outlet for both stress and creativity. It keeps me nourished the same way a good diet does. Therefore, I needed to make the space for it. Unfortunately, writing requires uninterrupted flow, which is difficult to do when my husband is awake.
Since the pandemic, he has been working remotely, which has positive and negative sides to it. One of the downsides is that I don’t have a designated space like I used to. Gone are the days of having the house to myself a few days a week. So I decided to carve that time in when he is still fast asleep. If I give to myself first thing in the morning, I am more open to sharing my time with him when he wakes up for breakfast.
+ Gratitude Journal. Each morning, I gratitude journal. I write 3 things I am thankful for. By instilling a sense of gratitude, I am reinforced to give to others as well. Plus, it’s a healthy reminder that life is never as bad as it seems. Gratitude journaling helps me think positively, and by doing so, allows me to have a positive impact.
+ Get exercise. Motivation: A favorite outfit, being outdoors, and a membership to classes. Before my thirties, I never got any exercise. My parents did not emphasize the importance of working out to their two daughters. Looking back on it, I think my personality would have been really good at sports. I started exercising in my thirties when I began experiencing back pain. Caused by a mix of my dental career, bad posture, and poor ab strength, I realized that I needed to start. I don’t want to be in pain for the rest of my life.
+ Plan ahead. Motivation: A planner that works for me. Planning ahead helps me organize my thoughts and prioritize my actions. Dedicating time to do this really helps me schedule important tasks as well as moments of rest. The latter is arguably the priority.
+ Stay hydrated. Motivation: An Ikea carafe that’s easy to have around, while fun to pour from. Occasionally, slices of fruit livens the cup. I have a daily habit of drinking a cup of water the minute I rise. That’s right! Even before coffee. I also have water with me at all times. I am constantly refilling my Kinto bottle at work, so much so that my co-workers call me a camel.
+ Read books and Listen to Podcasts. Motivation: Relaxation time and idea generation. I try to dedicate 30 minutes each day to take in information. That could involve reading or listening to podcasts. I have always loved reading (fiction in my youth, non-fiction as of late), and learning new things. I do this because I never want to stop learning something new.
+ Reflect on how I can improve tomorrow. Motivation: The hope of progress. In the evenings, I reflect on how I can improve tomorrow. Reflection is key! It is easy to go off course if one never stops to look back. I ask myself when I was at my best and when I felt unrest. Based on those answers, I find ways to make tomorrow better.
+ Get enough sleep. Motivation: I can wake up early the next morning to write. I am a monster without sleep. I can’t function. And I am a real grouch. Aside from that, I also understand that good sleep helps our bodies in so many ways. Everyone has a different definition of ‘enough sleep’. My ideal number of hours is nine, which means in order to wake up with the cat, I have to sleep shortly after dinner. Sometimes, I’ll take a cat nap if I need to catch up on hours.
+ Dedicate my life to experiments. Motivation: Sharing with others what I discover. I love to experiment and try new things. I change up my environment, my style of writing, my hobbies… heck, even my routines! Not only are new experiences exciting for me, they also help me to grow. They teach me who I am and who I want to become. Experimentation fills my life with joy.
+ Declutter. Motivation: More space – for thought, for action, for laying out on our Nordic rug. My husband once told me that he thinks I have an unhealthy relationship with decluttering. I disagree. Constant evaluation is necessary work. I get rid of things so that better ones can take their place. If I did not do that, I would have never experienced all that I have. It is arguable my number one tool for becoming 1% better every day.
I hope this post serves as inspiration for you to be the person you want to be tomorrow. Curious as to what you do to become 1% better?
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