12 Powerful Principles to Improve in Almost Anything

Last Updated on: September 20, 2023

If you want to improve in almost anything, you first must dedicate your time and effort to it. 

Then, with enough time, improvement is inevitable since staying at the same level as when you first started is virtually impossible.

It is also vital to understand that long-term improvement will not happen overnight and that every “overnight success” takes years or even decades because personal growth is not a straight line.

Though improvement will greatly depend from person to person, there are times when you will have to implement several principles that worked out for other people in the past.

However, it is crucial to understand that everyone has their limitations, whether physical, mental, or emotional.

But don’t be afraid of taking a few misses in your quest to be more proficient in what you want to learn.

Here are 12 principles and tips you can try to improve almost anything.

1. Get 1% Better Every Day

The concept of 1% better every day is widely attributed to James Clear, the author of the best-selling book Atomic Habits.

He argues that you need continuous improvement and implement small positive changes and modifications in your life to get better at anything.

The concept is also derived from the famous getting 37.78% better in a year. By finding an incremental 1% improvement in what you want to develop, you are setting up a snowball or compounding effect that can change your life.

In contrast, deteriorating 1% daily for a year will be the opposite of improvement and can even be detrimental. You will be worse at what you do.

You can implement the 1% Better Everyday concept in almost every aspect of your life, like your physical health, mental state, finances, relationships, and more.

2. Use the 80/20 Principle

The 80/20 Principle, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of consequences are caused by only 20% of the input.

This was initially observed in the context of wealth and population in Italy. Pareto examined that 80% of the land was only owned by 20% of the people, which was also applicable in other countries.

For instance, in any business, 80% of the sales come from only 20% of the salespeople. In the workplace, 80% of the work is shouldered by only 20% of the employees.

There may be areas of self-improvement where you can identify the 20% of skills needed to get an 80% output.

3. Follow Feynman’s Technique

Feynman’s Technique is the learning method of one of the most extraordinary learners of all time, the Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, which he broke into four simple steps.

1. Choose a concept that you want to learn.
2. Teach it to a kid.
3. Reflect, refine, and simplify.
4. Organize and review.

As a teacher, I use this technique to simplify my lessons and find the best ways to understand a topic deeper so I can teach the subject more simply.

You can implement this learning technique in almost any field you want to learn, especially if you’re going to teach or write about it.

4. Maximize the First 20 Hours

You may have heard or read that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. However, since the purpose of this post is to improve, it should take less time.

Josh Kaufman, the author of The First 20 Hours, learned that it only takes 20 hours for rapid skills acquisition. So, he is saying that in less than three days, you can have a working knowledge of whatever skills you want to learn.

But the 20 hours is not just some random practice. It should be systematic. First, you must deconstruct a complex skill, identify the areas you need to learn and remove your learning obstacles, and deliberate practice.

5. Practice Deliberately

The quantity of practice does not always determine that you can improve. It also needs to be done deliberately where the quality of the practice is more important.

When applying deliberate practice, you need to find the specific skills you want to work on, find ways to improve them and focus.

6. Focus!

We live in a very distracted world, where finding time to be still and focus is almost impossible.

However, if you want to improve in anything you want, you need to be laser-focused.

Put your phone away or place it in silent or airplane mode to avoid unnecessary distractions. You may also use the Pomodoro technique and other focusing strategies when learning a new skill.

Multitasking is also a no-no. It is simply switch-tasking. Stop thinking that you can perform two or more tasks effectively. Focus on one at a time.

7. Law of Averages

According to author Jim Rohn, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, derived from the law of averages.

To succeed in business, you must be in the constant presence of people already in that realm. If you want to be more mindful of your spending habits, then you need to be with people who are wise spenders.

So, if you want to improve in a specific category of your life, the people you spend the most time with must also want to improve in that area.

8. The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is a learning theory by Lev Vygotsky that is very important if you want to improve in anything. 

The ZPD is the place between what you can do easily and without assistance and what you will need assistance and guidance.

According to this theory, you need to find the right space that is not too easy enough that you will be bored but not too hard that you will lose interest out of frustration or need help from others.

So, when practicing to improve a particular skill, you must find the “sweet spot.”

9. Learning Transfer

Learning transfer involves deconstructing a concept into its fundamental principles and using those concepts in other applications.

Learning transfer is one of my favorite learning strategies that I unknowingly used without knowing the name before I read about it in an article about Elon Musk’s learning technique.

As a generalist and multipotentialite, I also wanted to learn many things. So, it’s a good thing that this concept exists.

10. Mentorship

Mentors are essential to anyone who wants to learn about almost anything. They can help us shorten the learning curve by sharing the critical points and lessons they experienced throughout their journey while avoiding mistakes.

It is also unnecessary to constantly talk to your mentors. They can include the people you regularly talk to, the books you read, the people you follow on social media, and the anti-mentors.

Your mentor doesn’t need to know that you consider them your mentor.

11. Feedback Loop

Feedback is another crucial component for constant improvement. It would help if you were prepared to accept positive and negative feedback and use it to improve yourself.

Positive feedback is easy to accept because it feels good. However, what if you receive negative feedback and destructive criticism? How will you respond to it? Will you be mad, or will you thank the person who commented?

Welcome both types of feedback to integrate into your system and continue to improve.

12. Apply the Concepts and Be Consistent.

Lastly, one of the most important factors for improvement is to apply them and be consistent. Knowledge is not enough. We also need to use them.

Consistency will also play a crucial role in your improvement journey. It doesn’t always have to be 100%.

The important part of consistency is showing up. Though you can’t do your best today, as long as you improve, it is still a win.

Final Thought

There are so many areas of improvement in our lives that we need to monitor through our own or other people’s observations constantly.

Start with your strengths because it is easier to improve on that area, and let others complement your weaknesses.

Move forward!

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