100% Commitment Is Easier Than 98%
May 24, 2021
In one of the excellent books relating to the art of living titled How Will You Measure Your Life, Harvard Professor Clayton Christiansen talks about how perfectly sane and decent individuals regress into making unethical and immoral choices unconsciously.
In the book, the Professor describes how we all have an inbuild boundary of moral code that we usually adhere to. However, in some situations, sometimes we convince ourselves that it is ok to break our own rules “just this once.” In our minds, we justify these small choices as “it’s no big deal.”. These wrong decisions, when we make them first, don’t feel like a bad decision. The marginal costs are almost always low. But over time, each of these decisions mutates into something more serious and makes us do stuff we would otherwise never have done.
Our life is always full of opportunities, and in the pursuit of those opportunities, there is always the tendency to cut corners and go against our own moral line “just this once”. However, if we give in to this “just this once” syndrome the first time, it becomes a behavioral precedence that we cannot escape. If we cross the line once, no line will hold us back from crossing the line again.
To prevent this “just this once” excuse from ever taking root, Professor Christiansen offers a simple mental model in the context of moral values and principles.
It’s easier to hold to your principles 100 % of the time than it is to hold to them 98 % of the time.
When it comes to matters of disciplined choices that you hold dear, it is easier to adopt a 100% adherence than to adopt an almost 100% adherence. Once a break or breach happens, it’s a downward spiral.
The 100% Commitment Rule Applies Well To Matters Of Discipline Too
I have realized that a version of the same mental model holds true for many of our day-to-day actions and behaviors.
100% commitment is easier than 98%.
Most of us have a natural tendency to self-sabotage when it comes to being disciplined about all the good habits in our life. We tend to contradict our own goals and ideals by slacking out and being inconsistent about our good practices.
But when you fully commit to something, it means you have decided for the present and the future. It is easier to stick to a 100% commitment because you don’t have to agonize over needless temptations and distractions. If someone offers you that sinful chocolate brownie or that sugar drink, your resolve is intact. There is no debate of “should I or should I not.” You are all in 100%. It’s a part of your identity, your value system.
I have taken the same approach with my practice of daily blogging. I find it easier to adopt 100% adherence because it eliminates the choice of not writing the blog and prevents any dependence on willpower. There is no ambiguity or scope for excuses.
It’s easier to stick to the good choices you make when you go in with a 100% commitment.