Incremental improvement

The following is directly quoted from an email that hit my inbox the other day. I’d link you to it but it’s an example of “extra content” offered by a website I love, Side Hustle Nation, and not available on the website itself.  If you like it too, you can subscribe to their newsletter just like I did. Unfortunately, the quote below doesn’t show the graph – just the word “image” but it’s a simple line graph that just goes up over time.

I recently ran a little experiment. Each day I would do a set of push-ups until I couldn’t do any more.

Push-ups to failure, I called it.

On day 1, I only could muster up a mere 27 push ups.

By day 30, I was up to 72, a 267% improvement!

Exciting stuff. Here’s how it went down:

Nerd Bonus: You can see from the trendline with an R-squared value of .96, the improvements were very consistent. The average gain was 1.25 push ups a day.

I forgot to do my push ups on 2 days (the flat section near the middle of the graph) on account of snowboarding and skiing those days.

Are these perfect push ups? Not at all. But I was consistent in my methods. You know, for science.

I found that doing them faster yielded better results as there seemed to be a physical limit of both repetitions but also time under resistance.

Each day I tried to meet or beat yesterday’s total, and only failed to do that one time.

I think this experiment is a great example of how focusing on tiny incremental improvements can produce dramatic results.

At the beginning, the idea of doing 70 push ups would have sounded crazy, but by specifically NOT aiming for it, and instead just trying to beat yesterday’s total, I was able to get there.

This kind of incrementalism is the opposite of the BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) theory from Built to Last. I think both can work, but in the end even the most outrageous goals have to be broken down into smaller steps.

How could you apply that strategy to your side hustle income targets or other goals for the year?

I enjoyed reading this and felt like his small incremental improvements were much like the Money Game’s gains. It’s just been small gains that add up to a significant amount over time.

My push towards incremental improvement for the day is a deposit of $11.56 as we came in under for the week on fuel. I love these power ups!

Level Completed: 144 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $64.55
Total Balance: $5,825.31
Our Money Game fund has increased 1.1% so far this month.

$82.39 is needed to reach the next level.


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