NEW YEAR, NEW YOU ….. well maybe!
The New Year means the chance of a new start – keen to make changes, many of us launch into unrealistic resolutions with gusto. It’s no surprise then, that many of us have that sinking feeling by the end of January and it’s nothing to do with the weather. Around 80% of us have given up on our resolutions within 2-3 weeks with the inevitable sense of failure.
What can we do to turn that around? How can we improve our performance, so that we can look back and feel we accomplished what we intended during the whole year?
This is where we introduce the concept of marginal gains (you may have heard of it but bear with us), which was devised and implemented by performance director of British Cycling, Sir Dave Brailsford and led to the huge success of the British cycling team and to Team Sky when he became general manager. An abundance of Olympic gold medals and 3 out of 4 wins in recent Tour de France (British riders) are a testament to his approach.
Both Team GB cycling and Team Sky were not at the top of their game when Brailsford took over – so what approach did he take that enabled him to make such a positive and impressive impact? To hear from the man himself explaining his theory please have a look at this YouTube clip.
Briefly, Brailsford’s “aggregation of marginal gains” is looking at the whole of the task in hand then breaking it down into smaller bite size pieces and seeing where small improvements can be made with each piece. This may stop us being overwhelmed by the overall goal we have set ourselves.
Brailsford went to great lengths in looking at the minutiae of the cyclists’ routines and how it impacted performance; to the extent that the cyclists own personal bedding went on tour to ensure they slept well and were rested properly, attention to detail of the less obvious in addition to the obvious.
How do I do it?
So how do we translate all this to help our own experience? Success is found in the sum of all of the small steps and improvements made to reach the goal – not just the end result.
- Scrutinize your main goal and break it down into smaller component parts then look to make tiny improvements – 1% improvement on each
- Don’t be afraid of mistakes – trial and error are important aspects of the learning process so don’t let set-backs stop your progress
- Set a realistic timeframe for making adjustments, evaluating the success of each and then moving on
- Be part of a team or group – feedback, constructive criticism, support network, ensuring delivery of outcomes
This theory can be and has been used in areas away from the cycling world:
- In business: looking at administration processes or sales performance
- In health: Royal Marsden Hospital trial to reduce pain after breast surgery
- In DSE: looking at workstation set-up and working practice to prevent or ease musculo skeletal problems [www.weareworkwise.co.uk]
- In speed eating: looking at more efficient ways to scoff hot dogs (yes, really – Takeru Kobayashi)
If your resolution was fitness or health:
- Jog, walk or just move 5 minutes a day more than the week before
- Reduce alcohol intake by one unit a week
- Increase fruit and vegetable intake by 1 piece a day
- Reduce calorie intake by 15 a day
- Drink half a pint of water extra a day
Now, are you ready to look at your resolutions/goals in a new light? Can you break them down into smaller component parts and look for that 1% improvement in each every day to enhance your chance of success?
It’s worth a try. Remember – baby steps! Good luck. Let us know what has worked for you.