Aim 1% higher

William Liao
1 min readNov 28, 2023

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The most satisfying and worthwhile goals tend to be the ones that feel just out of reach.

I used to test the maximum amount of weight I could lift for one repetition — a 1-rep max — every 8–12 weeks. Depending on the lift I was testing, the goal was to lift at least 5–10 pounds more than I lifted before.

Every test was met with a bit of doubt and discomfort:

Can I really do this?

Sometimes I did, sometimes I failed spectacularly. If you’re pursuing truly challenging things, it’s all but guaranteed that sometimes you will miss your target.

Well-designed stretch goals ideally strike a balance between being very hard to reach while remaining in the realm of achievability provided you put in a great deal of effort.

Here’s the great news: even if you don’t hit a stretch goal, the pursuit of it — the discomfort you will have to go through to try to reach it — almost always leaves you stronger, more resilient, and more competent.

Imagine what would be possible over time if you challenged yourself to aim 1% higher (or more) in everything you did.

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William Liao

Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (ephemera.photography)