Time is the most valuable resource we all have. It’s the one thing we cannot make more of, reverse, or speed up.
Time keeps moving along as we grow older each year. Time can feel like it’s moving extremely slow in cases of discomfort or pain. Time can feel as if it flies by when in a state of flow, or when not fully paying attention to it.
I think it’s a common sentiment “Where did all those years go?”.
Time has it’s advantages though...it can help to build wealth, build a family, build a new life. For example the amount of time you are exposed to the market, the more your money will grow, compound, and grow even more.
What is the main driver in this building of improvement? Time!
What I want to talk about today is a phenomenon called the Compound Effect.
I’ve recently finished the book named “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy, and boy did it really excite me, motivate me, and teach me the power of consistently doing good habits over the long term.
I’ll explain some details about the book as well as some of my own thoughts in how it relates to your fitness, health, and life!
What is the compound effect?
To put it simply, the compound effect is the outcome of small daily habits that are so small, yet given the proper amount of time, grow into something much larger.
The compound effect allows you to reap huge rewards with seemingly small actions daily. It can also snowball into negative space if we talk about habits that don’t suit you and don’t provide a positive outcome.
For example, think about how purchasing a small coffee each day would compound over time. If you spend 3 dollars a day on a coffee it may not feel or sound like a lot of money to be spending on something everyday.
However when you stretch this number out over the entire year, you’ll see that you will have spent 1,095 dollars a year on coffee!
Now if coffee from Starbucks is something that you really enjoy and provides value to you, then sure enjoy it! However I think the point of this is to show that something as small as 3 dollars a day can add up over time to a number that is much larger than you might think.
This is the compound effect in action
Let’s look at another example here, pulled from the book “The Compound Effect”.
Imagine a plane on a tarmac located in Los Angeles that is set to take off to New York City. If the airplane adjusts its nose only 1% in either direction, after traveling to the east coast the plane will either end up in Albany, or Dover Maryland. This is FAR from the intended outcome. The change in direction was so small that you wouldn’t even notice it if you were looking at where the plane faces upon take off.
This should give you the idea that even small, inconceivable changes can have a huge impact over the long term.
This goes right in line with how we coach at Forever Fit Method - focusing on the small things each day that can lead to a huge change down the road. Let’s go over an example of how that can look for your fitness and health.
How the compound effect relates to fitness and health
The compound effect also applies to your fitness and health. I hope this is clear by now, but by focusing on those small habits each day - your overall outcome will be far greater than if you had not.
Take for example the “get fit fast” idea. This would include all your cleanses, fad diets that only last 30 days, extreme weight loss programs that call for restriction for a few weeks.
What do these all have in common?
They won’t compound for the long term because of the speed at which it’s trying to accomplish true change.
Ask yourself this: Has there ever been a diet or workout program that I was able to get fast results, keep those results for the long term and adapt my life to include these habits day in and day out?
My guess is that there probably hasn’t been a diet that stuck with you for years in which you’ve adopted this new way of life. It’s because these fad diets are only meant for temporary fixes.
The compound effect cannot do the necessary work that it needs to do when you only make a temporary habit change that is so big that you can’t do it for too long. This is why I hate the diet mindset and extreme push for change in short periods of time.
Yes I know, you want to lose those extra 10 lbs so that you can look good in your bathing suit when you go on vacation. I get it...I’ve done it myself!
However what will have a far greater impact on your overall life is by using this compound effect to your advantage.
Over time a habit becomes easier to do, it reaps better rewards, and it feels like it’s part of your life. You OWN those small things each day and it shows over time.
Diving into the numbers for weight loss
Another example that I read in this book had to do directly with weight loss. Let’s talk about 2 people:
Scott is someone who wants to make small changes each day to get into better shape. He decides that he’s going to cut 125 calories out of his normal diet each day as well as walk a few thousand extra steps each day. Maybe he decides that instead of drinking a soda with lunch, he will just have water instead. He cuts out this one drink while also taking the stairs instead of the elevator in his building.
Brad is someone who wants to enjoy life a little bit more so he decides to buy a big screen TV for his basement, set up a little bar and includes 1 extra alcoholic drink per night into his diet. Brad has been researching recipes on the food network and is excited about making new dishes like cheese casserole.
What do you think happens over time with these 2 people?
Within 6 months, there will be no noticeable change between these 2 people. Scott continues to cut out 125 calories per day with no soda for lunch where Brad has an extra drink daily as he watches his big screen TV.
After 10 months, there aren’t any noticeable differences still. No huge change in body composition or weight, maybe Brad is having a little more fun!
Let’s fast forward to 31 months of time, about 2 and a half years into these small changes.
The results might be startling - Scott will have lost 33.5lbs whereas Brad has gained 33.5 lbs.
For those with that number mindset check this out:
31 months = 940 days
940 days X 125 calories/day = 117, 500 Calories
117, 500 Calories divided by 3500 (amount of cals in 1 lb)
Final number = 33.5lbs lost!
So in 2 and a half years of only taking out 125 calories a day Scott will lose over 33 lbs of fat without making a huge change to his diet.
Does this surprise you?
Does this sound like something you can do?
This is the power of the compound effect. When done over and over again big time rewards will come to fruition.
The ugly side of the compound effect
For better or worse, the compound effect has no bias towards positive or negative actions. As you saw above with Brad, his negative, and unwanted habits resulted in him gaining 33.5 lbs over 2 and a half years.
This is something I want you to think about now...what are some “bad” habits that are plaguing your progress in life, fitness, and health?
As these bad habits become part of our normal the impact of those habits will build upon itself. Let’s think about this for a second:
Let’s take a look at Brad - he has a nice big screen TV where he watches Top Chef learning how to make some delicious muffins. He makes these on the regular, enjoys them a little bit more than he “should” and often stays up too late watching TV while finishing up his night cap.
Brad might start to wake up a bit more lethargic because of the increased food consumption, alcohol, and lack of sleep. In the moment, he just sees his habit as enjoying himself before ending his day.
However what really happens is that he ends up waking up with low energy, feels like he has to drag himself to work and therefore isn’t ready to tackle the day's work. His boss might notice this lack of production and say something.
Brad then feels the stress of not performing well at work which he internalizes and searches for an outlet to put that stress into.
Brad might find food as comfort in this situation, only furthering his path down weight gain, feeling low energy, and feeling a lack of confidence in himself. Because he is lethargic when he gets home, he no longer goes for a walk with his wife at night.
This further compounds to potentially having a disrupted relationship with his wife as she feels that he doesn’t care, that he always has low energy and no enthusiasm for the relationship.
Now these things might be subtle, they might just slowly creep up day in and day out over the long term. However Brad is setting himself up for these outcomes because the power of compounding strengthens your habits.
What you need to do to use the compound effect for positive change
Realize this: you are in control of the small actions you can do day in and day out.
I hope that as you are reading this you are starting to understand that no change happens in a vacuum, no change happens over night. Regardless of if it’s a positive or negative change, the actions that you decide to do each day matter, no matter how small of an action it is.
So what can you do to elicit positive change for the future?
First, you need to understand that change takes time. Mindset is so very important - if you believe that change should happen in 30 days and it doesn't...you’ll lose every bit of momentum that you were producing with those daily habits. You’ll end up giving up, stopping your behavior and most likely introducing a new, negative habit.
Easier said than done sometimes but remember it is YOUR choice to think and see change differently than those around you.
Secondly, you need to be realistic for what you can do every single day. Remember to keep it small, simple, and repeatable. It will most likely feel very small, almost insignificant. 125 calories a day is barely anything. But as you can see when we gain the power of compounding, that 125 calories every single day will add up!
Lastly, you need to know why you are doing this. Is this change something you really want? Is it something that resonates with you, that means something to you? What would life look like if you got to that goal? How would you feel?
Asking yourself these questions can help bring clarity to your intentions which in turn helps to keep you grounded, motivated, and on a path to accomplish your goal.
The compound effect is a powerful tool, and a real occurrence in health, fitness, wealth and relationships. It can be used for both extreme success and positive change...or it can be used as a way to set you off course, break you down and create negative outcomes.
For me, I’ve been spending about an hour each day watching/reading information on the entrepreneurial experience. My goal is to become a more informed individual, a better leader, a better coach, and a better business person. By engaging actively in the pursuit of this knowledge and practice, I have no doubt that within a few years I'll be much further along in my journey then if I always resorted to watching entertainment youtube videos (which I’ve done for years before recently!)
Anyone can take advantage of the compound effect, you only need to think about what it is that you want to change, and the person you want to be.
I’ll leave this post with a great quote that is simple yet powerful...remember this the next time you decide to impart on a quick fix diet, doubt the slow progress, or feel like the small things don't matter.
“We become what we repeatedly do”