It’s hard to contain my excitement for next year.

I’ve got an adorable baby crawling around the Christmas tree, business is growing, we’ve got some great projects coming in and my mission is becoming clearer every day.

When I sat down to write my goals for 2019, it was hard to keep them all on one page.

I’m ambitious. I want to use the momentum I’ve built in 2018 to propel forward. But I already learned not to align my goals with expectations that ultimately cause me more stress.

Instead, I’m going to employ a strategy I’ve been learning a lot about this year.

I just want to get one percent better each day.

I first read about this concept from James Altucher — a writer, investor and entrepreneur — who expressed it in financial terms. If we look at this strategy like compounding — the ability of an asset to generate earnings, which are then reinvested in order to generate their own earnings — the bigger picture makes total sense.

Compounding is basically this: If you have $100 and an interest rate of 10%, after the term ends, you’ll have $110. If you hold that, after the next term the 10% will be applied to the $110 you now have, not the principal $100 originally invested so you’ll gain $11 and have $121. The next term you’ll have $133.10, and so on.

Similarly, if you just try to improve (or get closer to your goal) by a measure of just one percent every day — a teeny measure of improvement and totally attainable goal — then at the end of the year, we will be 38 times “better.”

For reference, that’s 3800% growth in just one year!

I’ve been in this mindset for quite a while and thought about it often when contemplating obstacles in my way, taking the leap, and trusting the process.

But looking at it through the concept of compounding helped me truly grasp it. Numbers can do that.

This past weekend, while on a trip to Nebraska, I read Atomic Habits, by James Clear. Clear takes this concept and dives even deeper by using the analogy of a cross-country plane trip. If you were heading from LA to New York and on the runway the pilot adjust the nose of the plane by just a couple of degrees, 100% of the people on that plane would not notice.

But by the end of the trip, when the passengers would be descending over the national monuments of Washington DC, rather than the skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan, the difference would be painfully obvious.

The point is this: we often either get so scared by the magnitude of what we want to accomplish, or try to achieve greatness in such a short amount of time, that we fail over and over again.

But if we set small attainable goals per day, the growth in the long term (and let’s be real: one year is not “long term”) is exponential.

We just need to keep that streak going, slow and steady.

Stay the course. Get one percent better a day.

That’s it.

Picture via Rain Bennett

Rain Bennett is a two time Emmy-nominated filmmaker, fitness professional, public speaker, and writer. His mission is simple: to help people realize that they too can be great, no matter where they come from or what they start with. It just takes passion, persistence, and a plan.

Bennett directed and produced his first feature length documentary in true indie fashion by traveling the world with only a backpack and a Canon DSLR camera. That film, Raise Up: The World is Our Gym won “Best of the Fest” at the Hip Hop Film Festival NYC and received global distribution through Red Bull Media House. He’s been featured in publications like Men’s Health and Sports Business Global and is a regular contributor to Breaking Muscle. When he’s not making movies or training clients at Sync Studio in Durham, he’s hosting a new webseries called The Perfect Workout Show.