Monthly 1% 001 – Intro and Flossing
Everything matters in the world of competitive cycling. How tight your clothes are, how aerodynamic your bike is, the amount of pressure in your tires — everything makes a difference. This has been known for ages, but about 10 years ago, Dave Brailsford changed the sport. He became the performance director of British Cycling with a lofty goal of having a British winner of the Tour de France. This is the most famous bike race, and no Brit had ever won before. His approach was to pay attention to the most minute details. The idea behind this was to try to improve everything you can think of by a meer 1%, and if you can compound this over every aspect of the sport, it will add up to a significant performance advantage. He dubbed this approach “the aggregation of marginal gains.” Some examples are as follows:
Bringing the same pillow between hotels to help the riders sleep better
Taping over small holes on bikes to improve air flow and aerodynamics
Washing hands more frequently
Individually designed meal plans for all 9 riders on the team
And dozens more. The Tour de France is 3 weeks of grueling racing and can be a battle of attrition. If you can become slightly more aerodynamic, sleep and eat in a more optimized way to recover better between days, you will have a better chance than you would otherwise. Brailsford was banking on this being the key to accomplishing his goals, and in 2012, Bradley Wiggins became the first Brit to win the Tour. In fact, someone on Brailsford team has won 6 out of the last 7 editions of the Tour.
The reason I tell this story is because this approach can generally be applied to life, and is my goal with this monthly series. The goal is to build good habits, improve existing ones, optimize my life, and to become broadly more productive and efficient. But you don’t always improve your life in big ways each and every week. I suppose that is possible but it isn’t sustainable. The point is to make small changes, and in aggregate, the benefits will be big. The cutoff for this series is very low, anything goes. The point isn’t to make drastic improvements and become a productivity machine, but rather to keep myself motivated and document my journey. So without further ado… here is the first installment.
Could I have picked a more mundane and boring first entry to this? Unlikely! If you’re like me, every time you go to the dentist, they get mad at you for not flossing and then you get really motivated to floss the next week or so before quickly petering out. I’ve known since I was a child this was an important habit to build, but I never put in the mental energy to actually make it happen.
Why and How
The benefits of flossing are huge. Everything your dentists says, like gum health, better smelling breath, even less chance of heart disease. But if I was actually going to make this habit stick, I need a “how”. For me, self-motivating by streak tracking is hugely motivational. For example if I know I’ve done something everyday for the last month, I’m going to feel very bad if I miss a day. As the streak increases, the odds of failure decrease. As a result of this, I’ve exercised each and every day for over 2 years now. I’m able to track this on an app called Strava. For other habits, I’m looking for a good way to track this. I’ve looked at some habit tracking apps like “Streaks”, but haven’t found one that I like yet, so if you have any recommendations, please let me know!
Thanks for reading! What are YOU doing to improve yourself on a regular basic? What are some habits you’re proud that you formed recently? I’d love to hear about them!
The below list will slowly grow and grow, but for now it’s short. This is the running list of improvements I’ve made as a part of this series: