Little Things Make the Difference
June 17, 2010 by Erin Casey
Everyday choices compound over time—for better or for worse.
How many times have you given up on something because you didn’t see any progress? We’ve all done it. We live in an instant-gratification culture, and the lack of visible results can be highly discouraging… so disheartening that the tendency is to throw in the towel.
You walk every day for 30 minutes during your lunch break for a week or two, but the scale doesn’t budge.
You pay a little extra on your credit card, or bump up your contribution to your 401(k) for a few months, but the impact on your balance is negligible.
So why not go back to reading novels at lunch, saying the first stinging remark that comes to mind or spending your hard-earned money? Those little things aren’t enough to make a real difference, right?
Wrong. Little things make all the difference.
In The Compound Effect, SUCCESS magazine Publisher Darren Hardy explains how much those small, seemingly inconsequential choices matter. Your choices, even the tiniest ones, add up over time. That’s the essence of the Compound Effect. But “time” doesn’t mean days or even weeks. It means months, years.
If you’ll develop the patience and the perseverance to continue making positive choices, you’ll love the result. But, throw in the towel and make negative or neutral choices, and instead of moving toward the life, the job, the relationships or the body you desire, you’ll steadily move away from those goals. Is it any wonder that, on average, Americans gain one to two pounds a year? Choose not to be average.
So how can you avoid average? Incorporate healthy or positive habits into your life. Get so good at making positive choices that they become your default.
Try this exercise.
- Start by focusing on one of your goals. What do you want to accomplish by the end of the year?
- Now, write down what needs to happen to make that goal a reality.
- What are the habits you need to develop? Name them all, but pick just one or two to work on this month.
- Don’t sabotage yourself by trying to change everything at once, but don’t cheat yourself either. If you’re already doing pretty well in one area, determine to continue to improve that area and develop a new habit.
- Track your progress daily. Become aware of your choices so that you can course correct day by day. In The Compound Effect and on the book’s website (TheCompoundEffect.com), Hardy offers a few free resources. The one to check out for this exercise is “The Rhythm Register.” It’s a tool you can use to track your behavior and keep yourself moving in the right direction.
“Your only path to success is through a continuum of mundane, unsexy, unexciting, and sometimes difficult daily disciplines compounded over time,” Hardy writes. But the payoff can be extreme. “The results, the life and the lifestyle of your dreams can be yours when you put the Compound Effect to work for you…. You will create your fairytale ending.”