What is the Power of One More?

Look at the Grand Canyon. It is truly breathtaking. Over millions of years, water carved its way through stone, but it didn’t do this all in one day. The Grand Canyon was created out of persistence.

After neglecting my strength training for a while, I started doing pushups every day. The first day I did 20. The next day, I just did one more, 21. The next day 22, then 23 and so on. Yesterday I did 32. In less than a fortnight, I had increased my daily pushups by 60%. That is the power of one more.

You can use this simple logic with everything in your life. Maybe you don’t like to run. Go outside and run a mile. Then the next day run one minute more. Is that too much for you? That’s fine. Go run half a mile, or run 100 yards. Run to your mailbox. If you spent all day yesterday on the couch with a bag of potato chips, then running to your mailbox is an improvement. The next day, run to the nearest house. Then on the third day run to just one more house. Run to one more house on the fourth day. Keep adding a house every day and soon you’ll be running around the block.

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“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway

This also works well if you are a writer. Just one more 500 word chunk on your novel you’re writing. Just one more minute of writing. The whole task appears daunting, but adding in that one more makes a huge difference if you can maintain the habit. That’s the real trick. It’s convincing your mind to do one more small little task which by itself is very simple and achievable. The magic comes when you decide to add one more on top of that. Just one more minute of writing can turn into another 30 minutes with this method.

We all know how to change our life, but it can be so daunting to change it all at once. Many are overwhelmed by the incredible amount of change that is required to get out lives to line up with our aspirations. That is why I recommend breaking it up into manageable chunks. I did this with my diet; I still am doing this with my diet, but I have come a long way. I have been losing about 2 pounds a month since the beginning of the year which really adds up. Diet plays a much bigger part of your health than exercise. How have I been able to consistently lose weight? I changed my lifestyle one step at a time. Then I would do just one more. So, cut out one thing in your diet that you no longer need. Stop drinking soda. The amount of sugar will eventually lead to diabetes and obesity. Drinking just one soda a day will add more than 15 pounds a year. Keep water around you at all times to avoid the temptation to buy a soda at the gas station or vending machine. After you knock out soda, move on to the next unhealthy habit. Just one more. After around 30 days or so, you won’t really miss that daily soda or that bowl of ice cream. Knock out potato chips next. Replace these items with something similar but healthier. Tea instead of soda. Yogurt instead of ice cream. Diets don’t work because after the weight comes off, most people go back to the unhealthy lifestyle. Keeping the weight off requires a lifestyle change.

This is how you differentiate yourself from the crowd. Do just one more thing and you are suddenly standing out in a sea of average. This is especially true if you are not required to do extra. Sports Illustrated once asked one of its writers to travel to a motorcycle race in Las Vegas to write a 250-word photo caption. That writer sent back a 2,500-word piece detailing “a savage journey into the heart of the American dream.” Rather that describing the race, Hunter S. Thompson described the journey, and it evolved into Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. While Sports Illustrated rejected it for obvious reasons, Hunter had established himself as a force to be reckoned with. If you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission. The sad reality is that most people are simply doing mediocre work, or the bare minimum. I’m sure you remember this in school, where a kid would ask the teacher what the bare minimum amount of work is for an assignment. How many pages do we have to write? And those kids would put extra spaces and try and make the font a little bigger so that they could finish the work as fast as possible. Often, they likely spent more time and effort on these little tricks than they would for the assignment itself. Well, do you know what happened to those kids? They grew up and got jobs and now we have a society where mechanics, airplane assemblers and bridge workers are out doing the bare minimum. Thankfully there is a plethora of people who still have a passion for their work and put forth the extra effort, but the truth is that the average person does the bare minimum. If you hate your job and want to move up in your world, start acting like you are better than your position. Put forth the extra effort and help yourself stand out in a sea of average. Be extraordinary.

Then maybe you do get that promotion, or someone else notices your extra effort and they offer you a job and now you suddenly have a little more money. Are you saving money every month? Save just one more. If you’re saving $100, save another $100. Save $50, $20, save one single dollar. If you throw in $100 a month, that is $1200 a year. Start at 25 and you’ll save $48,000 by the time you retire at 65. That doesn’t even count the interest or rate of return if you invest. Let’s make this interesting. At 4% return on your money, which is very conservative, you are looking at over $100,000 by the time you retire. Manage to achieve 7% and you’ll double that amount. The S&P 500 has achieved 9.7 percent over the last 90 years.

Small changes done consistently add up to big results. That is the power of just one more.