Author Darren Hardy, publisher at SUCCESS magazine, asks you the question, where would you be tomorrow if today, you sought to do just a little more, put in a little more effort, worked just an hour later, etc. in his latest book, The Compound Effect. He naturally uses the analogy of financial compounding to illustrate the example that just a penny more invested each day over the course of a lifetime could be a difference of thousands of dollars in the end. He goes on to elucidate how keystone habits such as exercising, quitting smoking, working harder, cutting calories, etc. might start as really small, seemingly inconsequential differences in the larger scheme of things, but when compounded over time they lead to transformational breakthroughs such as avoiding heart disease and obesity, saving yourself thousands of dollars and the pains of lung disease, gaining promotions and success at work, and having that beach body you may have only been dreaming of for years!
Hardy invites you to practice self study and self inquiry so that you investigate your current thinking, habits, and routines, and look for minor or small improvements you can make in processes that might add up to substantial gains in the future. This has helped me avoid procrastination at work as I continually ask myself, "How can I give just a little bit more right now?" Sometimes that involves prioritizing or just simply rolling up my sleeves and doing those less than glamorous tasks on the to-do list that previously might have been sloughed off by procrastination and delay.
I have found there is a downside to this type of thinking though. Especially if you are prone to perfectionism or can run yourself ragged like I tend to do, it can lead to overexertion and a "goodism" that may lead you to seek to improve and over perform in every area of your life. That caution being carefully placed though, I believe it is important for one to constantly seek to improve process, habit, routine, actions, systems for organization, nutrition, and health and wellness habits. He made an interesting challenge in the book. He asked, if you could change and/or start a new, better habit every 21 days, how would your life be transformed a year from now? I have mapped out my next two cycles of habit formation for the next 6 weeks and am happy to say that I am already seeing positive change in my health and wellness. I don't want to totally rat myself out but one habit involves flossing and the other refraining from refined sugars! (I'm sure you can complete the guesswork!)
Taking the compound effect to every area of your life might be a bit overzealous, but then again, how would your life be if you ate a little less, drank a little less, read a little more educational material, invested more thought into your processes at work, and thought a little more about what you did? Then you would experience the compound effect - this idea that small, incremental changes lead to major gains over time. An example of this would be meditating everyday. Sure, it wasn't easy to set aside an hour before bed every night to meditate when I started. However, it was small in comparison to the gains that I made emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually. Eventually I experienced all these things: free from migraines, free from panic attacks, reduced social anxiety, more productive behavior and focus at work, increased immune function (less colds and viruses), a return to my Catholic upbringing and faith, adherence to an exercise routine, weight loss, quitting drinking - and all because I meditate for an hour every day! You may say, "But who has the time to do that?" It is true that time is a limited resource and we all have an inordinate amount of pressure on us these days. However, the compound effect seeks to invest in activities that have a large "return on investment". That is, you get back more than you put it. Did you know that according to research, an average American adult, if adds 15 minutes of exercise per day for the rest of their life, will increase their average lifespan by 3 years? More than that, exercise is also proven to reduce stress, reduce your chance of heart disease, obesity and cancer, increase your cognitive functioning, decrease your tendency to eat unhealthy foods, and has been tied to other healthy habits such as spending less, and drinking less. So when you think, "I don't have 15 minutes a day to exercise," what you are really saying is, "I have time for obesity, cancer, heart disease, and early death"! It's a total no-brainer!
And you can apply the compound effect to anything! From fasting from technological devices, to reading inspirational and motivational books, to spending time with your family, investing in your relationships, and anything else you may seek to improve! The possibilities know no end! The question to ask yourself is "What are some small, positive changes I can make on a daily basis with consistency toward a future goal, behavior, or end result?" Track and monitor these changes, whether through budgeting, fitness app, journaling, etc. and watch the compound effect take hold of your life! You will not be disappointed!