Compound effect what? When we decide we want something, we often want it really fast. Pretty much NOW would be the best.
We want to be super fit, super lean, run marathon, become 5.0 tennis player, do a 1-minute handstand, write a book, get our health back, learn a new language, have a successful business, find the perfect for us life partner. It is nothing new if I tell you that all this takes time. And effort. And sometimes we feel like we don’t have that extra time or energy to put into this pursuit, because we are already completely full and busy with life as it is right now.
But how about if I told you that even small efforts, done daily, can get you there?
Each day, we make a multitude of what seem to be “tiny and insignificant” decisions. However, these decisions compounded over months, years and even decades define the quality and the direction of your life.
It’s a process. Small actions. Small daily actions, that will compound into massive results over time. You can take 10 extra serves on the tennis court, or you can do 10 push-ups every morning upon awakening. You can skip the donut on the way home from work. Or add two vegetables onto your dinner plate. This is completely achievable, and believe me, it will change you!
Sometimes we feel like the action is so little so it doesn’t really matter. It cannot make a difference. You feel hopeless maybe lose the drive to make the change. The following story will illustrate how even a little action, when compounded, can completely change your life. You may relate personally, or maybe it happened to some of your friends.
Three Friends’ Compound Effect
We have three friends, Stan (stagnant), Paul (progress), Reggie (regress). They grew up together, live in the same neighborhood, they all have work, wife, and kids, average health and body weight, and living a comfortable life.
Stan just keeps living his life. He thinks he is happy, but occasionally complains that nothing ever changes.
Paul starts making some small, seemingly insignificant positive changes. He begins reading 10 pages of a good book per day and listening to 30 minutes something educational or inspirational while communing to work. He also wants to feel healthier so he cuts 125 calories a day. This is really not a big deal, it is taking away one soda and drinking water instead. Or trading mayo on his sandwich for mustard. He also started to walk extra few thousands steps a day, less than a mile. This is nothing spectacular, anybody can do this. He is determined to stick with these changes.
Reggie, makes a few poor choices. He recently bought a new big-screen TV to watch his favorite programs. He started to make a few new dessert recipes that he saw on the Food Channel. And he added one beer to his diet per week. Nothing crazy. He just want to have more fun in life.
At the end of 5 months, there is no perceivable difference among the three friends.
At the end of 10 months, we still cannot see any noticeable difference.
It’s first toward the end of 18 months, 1.5 year later, we can see a slight difference in their appearances.
2.5 years later, the differences are HUGE. Reggie is fat. Paul is slim.
(125 calories a day in 2.5 years is about 115,000 calories in 2.5 years, which is almost 35 lbs of fat, very roughly counted and of course, there are many other aspects playing a role, but for the simplicity, let’s assume this number).
Paul has lost 35 lbs, while Reggie has gained 35 lbs and now it is 70 lbs difference between them!!
Paul has also invested almost 1,000 hours of educational and self-improvement reading and listening. He put his knew knowledge into practice and got a promotion and more money at his work. And because he feels happy and healthy, his marriage is thriving too.
Stan is exactly in the same place where he was 2.5 years ago, maybe just a little bit more bitter about his stagnant life.
And Reggie? He has gained 35 lbs and he feels sluggish. He cannot sleep well at night. He is grouchy the next day and the sleep deprivation starts impacting his work performance. He is less productive and his boss is not happy with him. He feels dissatisfied with his performance and even the traffic on the way home is more irritating. He comes home and reaches immediately for comfort foods and a drink. He doesn’t want to take the regular walks with his wife how he used to. He starts withdrawing and not doing any activities with his wife. He lacks the endorphin release and feels unhappy. He start blaming everybody around him. He feels flabby, less self-confident, less attractive and becomes less romantic. He starts watching more TV and distance himself from his wife. She feels the distance and becomes needy. Of course, this doesn’t work. She feels lonely, so she protects herself emotionally and starts putting more energy into her work and going out with her friends. Eventually their marriage falls apart, he gets depressed, constantly underperforming at his work, and gets fired. He still blames everybody else around him, and doesn’t see that the choices he’s made has created a ripple effect that caused all the havoc in his life.
As Darren Hardy says:
“In essence, you make your choices, and then your choices make you.”
This is the beauty of the compound effect in its simplicity.
First the results are intangible. The behavior is all the same through the days. months, and years. But the compound effect eventually kicks in to bring a massive difference.
How YOU can use the compound effect
Sometimes people tell me that I am too extreme in my diet, training, and life. And that they need more balance—they need to have a few beers, and eat a few bad meals, and sometimes skip their fitness training. Balance is important, they say. But I always think about the compound effect each time I am trying to make a choice what to eat, what to do, what to say… and thinking about the three friends, I often choose the thing that may seem uncomfortable in that moment, but in long term leads to progress and positive changes in my life.
How you can apply the power of the compound effect in your life?
- wake up 15 minutes earlier every day and read an inspiring or self-improvement book or start writing a few pages of that book that you have always wished to write
- workout 30 minutes daily, even if you split in a few shorter session
- go out to the tennis court (or a wall, grass, yard…) and serve 10–20 extra serves
- give up sodas and drink water instead
- skip the dessert and eat fruits instead
- put 10% of your paycheck into savings, or investing account
- skip the useless reality TV program and read a good book instead
- give your wife/husband/partner extra 5 minutes to listen to them how they feel and what they want
- add a few stretches for your hips and shoulders into your daily program, you will feel like a new person
- anything you want in your life, do just a little bit of it EVERY day
Most of all… if you have the moment—and it will for sure come—that you don’t feel like doing this insignificant action, think about the story of the three friends and where it can lead you if you choose to do it or choose not do it.
Remember, you never stand still. Every action you take, is leading you either forward or backward.
What are you going to choose?
In my pursuit for a thoracic bridge, from week to week, the changes were so minuscule that it was almost disheartening. But I kept going, and still keeping going. Looking back at the nine month’s difference, there is a obvious and quite big change. I can’t even imagine what I am going to see in two or three years. Shoulder dislocates are part of the program, besides many other things.