The "18not180" Approach to Becoming Your Best Self

18not180

I talk a lot about becoming your best, brightest self. 

Sometimes, though, I fear the way I talk about personal growth makes it seem as though once we discover what actions we want to take to live as our best selves, that seemingly overnight we’re able to simply make those changes and accomplish just that.  

Like…

We decide we need to be more self-disciplined so we wake up the next day able to stay focused and on-task, and suddenly we’re living our best life. 

We decide we need to rest and take better care of ourselves, so from then on we no longer overwork ourselves and burn out and, ta-da, we’ve changed! 

But that’s NEVER how it actually works, is it? 

It took me so long to learn this. For so long I tried this strategy: I’d find myself in a moment of “I know I’d be so much happier and brighter if I just did better with xyz.” I knew what needed to change, and maybe I even made better choices for a while, but a month or two later when I went back to my old ways, I felt like a failure.  I would judge myself for sliding backward, not making that change. 

That awful feeling of letting yourself down… I’ve realized that’s often the most powerful force that holds us back from real growth. We judge ourselves for “failing” and the next time we don’t even try to do better because we’re tired of feeling the guilt and disappointment of not being able to suddenly wake up and do a 180.

But last year I tried something new. I realized I needed to stop making the goal to do a complete 180-degree change in whatever area of my life I was focusing on. 

Instead I started asking myself: What if I just focused on trying to get 10% better at whatever I wanted to change? 

What if I drank more water 10% of the time? What if I was better about reaching out to friends just 10% more? What if I managed my daily schedule better just 10% of the time?

By changing the goalpost to something so seemingly manageable, I stopped finding myself in the dreaded loop of self-judgement. 

Lasting change and living your brightest life ultimately comes down to tiny micro choices. In any given moment, you can choose what feels easy and comfortable OR you can choose what that best version of yourself would choose. 

Imagine you are a dial or compass pointed in one direction. Most of us view change as a complete 180 degree rotation to get ourselves pointed in a new direction. Instead, this new philosophy has me viewing change as the sum of tiny 10 degree turns toward whatever that “best” version of you looks like. 

Jason calls this 10% better strategy “18 not 180” (which, coincidentally, feels especially appropriate for the year 2018). 

So my challenge for you this week is to think of the one or two most pressing areas of your life or habits that you are trying to change, and I want you to try getting just 10% better. 

Try rotating those measly 18 degrees, not a full 180. See if it feels easier and more doable to slowly drift toward your brightest life, rather than feeling guilty or disappointed for not being able get there overnight. 

#18not180. I’m making it a thing. A gentle reminder. A mantra. A cheat code. Whatever you want to call it, I hope it helps you make 2018 your best year yet. 

Thanks for reading!