There are simple, but profound disciplines that lead us in the direction of our desires. These are tiny small steps that overtime “compound” and create a ripple that will either reap havoc or success in our lives.
In his book, “The Compound Effect”, Darren Hardy discusses these seemingly inconsequential tiny steps and actions that if done every day will surely take your life in a new positive direction. The catch to the compound effect is that it takes time to see results and unfortunately we live in an era where we want immediate gratification. We want the “overnight” success. However, there’s no such thing. Success takes hard work, consistency and a whole lot of faith.
So what are some areas in your life where you can be consistent? If you read for even 15 minutes every single day, without fail, within a few years you would have read dozens of books. But if you declare that you’re going to read for an hour each day, well that’s fantastic, but life happens and there will be days (many days) when you won’t be able to read for an hour and you’ll find yourself saying, “Well, I don’t have the time to read today so I won’t read at all.” A year will go by and you will not have advanced much in your reading. Believe me, I know this all too well and I’m an avid reader!
But remember, the compound effect is about taking small steps consistently. Surely we can all commit 15 minutes of our day to reading something that’s going to give us an edge in our careers, inspire us to push a little harder or just teach us how to do something better. And it doesn’t just stop there. Reading quality material has a trickle effect (assuming you apply the principles you learn). The knowledge, the concepts and ideas learned are equivalent to a college degree or much better!
“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” Jim Rohn
These small actions when performed consistently become habits: something you do automatically, like drinking water or brushing your teeth. You don’t have to put energy or much thought into doing it. It’s a part of your lifestyle. For me, I’ve been reading consistently for years every day, so now when I read it’s no big ordeal because it’s a part of who I am (though this wasn’t always the case). It’s a good habit that I practice every day.
Another habit that has become automatic is setting money aside for taxes each pay period. I started setting additional withholdings from each pay period at the beginning of 2016 and it’s been great. It’s not a huge amount, so I don’t even notice it. But it’s something that has helped me not fall behind on taxes each year. There’s now a surplus for Uncle Sam to take.
Can you think about doing this with your retirement plan or putting money aside for a rainy day? It’s freaky to put aside $500 each month into our savings. Most of us don’t have that much left after paying our bills and living expenses! But consider setting aside $50 per pay check; set up an automatic payment plan (you are paying yourself). I promise you will not notice the difference in your paycheck after a few times. Before you know it, that small $50 dollar contribution into your savings account has compounded into a nice cushion for you and your family.
This is the lovely thing about consistency and the compound effect. And you can apply it to every life domain. I urge you all to think of areas where you can take smaller steps towards your overall goals.
You can absolutely do this in every area of your life. Remember, you don’t have to commit to a lot, as long as you take action every single day. Consistency is key. That’s it. It really is that simple.
Can you drink one less cup of coffee per day? Sure, you can handle that. Can you give up coffee entirely? Woah, now that may be asking for a lot…but surely you can drink one less cup per day. Once you’re comfortable with one less cup of this addictive legal stimulant you can try this method again. Maybe this time you will mix half decaf, half caffeine. Do that for a while (consistently) and then remove the caffeine all together and now you’ve rid yourself of two cups of coffee per day. That’s progress and it wasn’t so difficult. You can repeat this process until you have reached your goal.
I’m a coffee drinker. I love wrapping my hands around a nice hot cup of coffee. But I only drink one cup every other day, sometimes just a cup on the weekends. It’s become a treat and something I look forward to. I don’t have to give it up entirely, but I know I can scale back a little, not a lot, just enough.
“The smallest decisions shape our lives. Stray off course by just two millimeters and your trajectory changes.”