The 1% Rule for When You’re Feeling Rather “MEH, SUCKS” About Everything and Everyone, Even That Hot Pastry Chef

Well it’s Thursday and for everyone’s delight, I’ve compiled a random list of shit I absolutely should not know, but do:

  • That you should photograph interiors with a wide-angle lens, set to 20mm instead of zoomed all the way out. (Otherwise you get distorted walls that curve in.)
  • A ball of wool is technically called a “skein.” (And US 19 wooden knitting needles are my fav!)
  • If there’s an elliptical fan light window on top of the front door, the building is actually Federal style—not Georgian. #important
  • When illustrating fashion sketches, if the shoulder goes up, the hip goes down.
  • Senior women over 60 years old are actually rated as the best hosts on Airbnb. 🙂
  • Light roast coffee—are you ready for this?—has way more caffeine in it than dark roast. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? That’s because a strong taste means that the beans have been roasted longer, and just like alcohol burns off of food, so does caffeine. (If you follow me on Insta, then you saw me geeking out at a coffee plantation last week here in Costa Rica.)

The point? I’m never, ever happier than when I’m learning something new. Like, I will be an ecstatic maniac while taking a Skillshare class. Or I’ll pour myself a glass of wine and cook with a Masterclass running in the background. Or I'll fantasize about running off to London and taking the most unseemly classes: special effects makeup, for one. (My friend Sarita worked on Harry Potter and all sorts of fun films, and sometimes I see her Instagram and I’m all, I WANT TO KNOW HOW TO DO THATTTTTT!)

But this isn’t about me: this is about mitigating stagnancy. If you are feeling listless, uninspired, and “meh,” the answer is not to push yourself harder, hoping you’ll “get over it.” (Lookin’ at you, overachieving perfectionists who are ready to burn themselves right out.) The answer is to pull yourself softly in a new direction—even if it’s just in your spare time.

To my point, I’m obsessed with James Clear’s Atomic Habits (we share the same literary agent—isn’t this game fun?!), where he talks about the importance of becoming just 1% better every day. He did the math: if you can get 1% better every day for a year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1% worse each day for a year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero and basically hate your entire life. (My words.) His argument (and it’s a convincing one), is that we always try to make these big, sweeping changes, under the assumption that big change happens when you change something big, but that’s not actually the case. Rather, success works like compound interest does: the effects of your little daily habits multiply as you repeat them. Making a choice that is one percent better or worse seems insignificant in the moment (like, that General Tso’s Chicken isn’t going to move the scale that much), but, as Jimbo says:

“When we repeat 1 percent errors, day after day, by replicating poor decisions, duplicating tiny mistakes, and rationalizing little excuses, our small choices compound into toxic results. It’s the accumulation of many missteps—a 1 percent decline here and there—that eventually leads to a problem. Similarly, making a choice that is 1 percent better…[can] determine the difference between who you are and who you could be. Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”

Which is all to say: if you can move toward being 1 percent more satisfied with your life every day, you will end up being 37% more satisfied by the end of the year. And for me? Learning something new every day? That’s my daily 1%. That’s what makes me feel more whole—even though it’s happening little by little. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then a lesson a day KEEPS ME FROM INSANITY.

Unless I’m on my period, then all bets are off.

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Quit your job. Work remotely. Travel the world. Find your f*cking self.

Every weekday morning at 8am Eastern you’ll get 3 ideas to help you make big moves and big money. Written by Penguin Random House author, entrepreneur & digital nomad, Ash Ambirge, who likes to believe she still has standards.

The Middle Finger Project has helped over 500,000+ unconventional subscribers ditch the crock pot & go on an adventure. Established 2009 from Santiago, Chile.

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