When I was in my early to mid-20s, I felt the need to change everything about my life. I thought changing habits was difficult, changing myself was even more difficult, and that it would be impossible to find role models that had done great things.
I would spend time meticulously reading book after book on habits and success, and all the while looking for the “big thing” that would change it all for me.
It took me a very long time to realize there’s only one principle that made the biggest difference in my life.
How One Little Thing Can Change It All
How a Little Habit in the Gym Changed All My Habits
My first, major life goal was to get fitter from working out — it was the very first goal that I went after that took years and years before I could see any progress.
I started working out at eighteen or nineteen, right when I went to college, and it took years to really see noticeable results. I was doing a lot of the stuff that I saw other people doing that apparently was working for them.
I was drinking protein shakes every day. I was going to the gym five days a week, training hard, pushing myself. I was sleeping enough and working out regularly with intensity.
I was just doing weights. No running, no cardio, or anything else that could be taking away from my “weight gain.” And yet, I wasn’t quite getting the results I wanted. My assumption was that this had to be complicated. I assumed that this all had to be difficult.
Now thankfully I realize that’s not necessarily true. The big thing I realized was that all I had to do was push it just a little bit more. Just 1% more. For many of us, getting the results we want and becoming successful is about pushing it just a little bit.
Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee used to say that their workouts began once they felt the pain.
From year four on, I decided to try something different (aligned with this 1% philosophy).
From year four to seven, I just told myself to do three extra reps. I would do bicep curls, leg presses, squats, or deadlift, and when I felt myself getting tired and thinking about dropping the weight, I would just do three extra reps.
If it was 10, I would just crank out those last three. I would push them. Not too hard, but I would push them. If it was nine, then I would push it another two or three.
Over time, I got into the habit of doing a little more – which not only was in the gym, but also in my personal life. I would decide to floss all my teeth instead of half of them, I would get up a little bit earlier to work on reviewing goals, I would read a few more pages in a book, I would put in 1% more effort to make someone else’s life better.
I would go until it felt natural, and then once I felt fatigued, I would go just a little bit more.
What I never could’ve predicted was how much this one habit would’ve changed my entire life, beyond just how I looked and felt leaving the gym.
It changed everything.
How It Changed Everything in my Life
I also changed how I ate of course, but this was really focusing on just pushing it 1% more, and the results were pretty dramatic.
One of the other aspects of my life this helped me in was my dating life.
For example, when I met my girlfriend, I was at a friend’s house. We were talking, and I was trying to get her phone number. I wasn’t sure if she was interested in me, and so my normal self was like, “Screw it. She’s obviously not interested.”
Normally, there’s the ordinary version of ourselves—the one who’d give up at the first sign of rejection or failure. Then there’s that person who does things 1% better. And I chose to be that person. I pushed myself to be really uncomfortable.
I asked for her number, even though I told myself that she “clearly wasn’t interested.” And then a few months later as we were talking (and I was clearly lukewarm for her), I pushed myself even more out of my comfort zone and got broadway tickets for us (not knowing whether or not she’d even show up).
If I didn’t push myself to do that additional 1% of effort, then I never would’ve gotten into the relationship that I was in for five years. I never would’ve had the guts to push myself just a little bit further. Years later, after I began this “1% more effort” philosophy, I reflected on how interesting it was that I didn’t invest a massive amount of effort – it was just a little bit more, and the results were massive.
How the Same Habit Helped Me Get a Dream Job
Adam Pacciti did 1% more and got hundreds of job offers. 
I also used this method when I was trying to get a job in my mid-20s. When I graduated college in 2009, we were experiencing the worst part of the recession in the United States.
Even though I had a good degree from a good university, it was almost impossible to get a job. All my friends who had different majors were getting jobs, and I wasn’t.
It was also frustrating because some of the people who were getting jobs were not as qualified as I was on paper. And I, for the life of me, could not figure out why they were getting jobs that I was not getting.
As a result, I had to get really creative. My normal self would have sent out a bunch of resumes and cover letters, but for two companies I applied to, I did something different.
I pushed it just a little bit. For the first company, rather than submitting a boring cover letter resume, I shot a video explaining how I could help their company in five ways.
Can you guess who sent me an email within a couple hours of getting that video cover letter? Yeah, the CEO, the founder.
Another time, I sent handwritten letters on parchment. I sealed them with red wax, and stamped them with my own personal seal, the letter “A.”
I sent this to multiple people, including a few CEOs of small companies, the president of my university, and a couple other people who work in companies I was applying for.
Guess what? Every single one of them got back to me. Many of them gave me their personal cellphone numbers and told me to call them.
It was all the power of just going 1% further.
Your “Master the Day” Habit for Today
All of these changes in my life came as a result of just pushing it a little bit more. Those last few reps, that last bit of discomfort, that shred of more effort, is the difference between a life of mediocrity and a life of greatness.
At least it was for me.
If you started applying this 1% more effort approach, what goal do you think would benefit by it the most?