James Clear is the go-to expert for making small changes, or Atomic Habits (as his New York Times best-selling book refers to them). James advocates that the way to build habits is to try and get just one percent better each day—something that sounds almost too easy to do, and yet builds a firm foundation for continual improvement.
“I like to refer to habits as the compound interest of self-improvement, and the reason why I like that phrase is that, the same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them over time…[I]f you can get just one percent better each day, so .01365, you end up 37 times better by the time you get to the end of the year.”
Getting one percent better can be as simple as reading one page of a book per day, or driving all the way to the gym and exercising for only five minutes. James refers to this as “the art of showing up.” By practicing the basic decision to “show up” for these activities you can train yourself to overcome your objections and actually start. You’re less likely to quit on yourself when the decision to change is small and simple. James recommends a “two-minute” rule for habits: whatever habit you’re trying to build, scale it down to just two minutes or less. Once you’ve mastered it you can optimize and improve as needed.