‘Step by step, day by day, your choices will shape your actions until they become habits, where practice makes them permanent’ – Darren Hardy

I learnt the concept of compound interest during Finance classes in school, but the concept did not stick then.  In the past few years however, life experiences and at least 3 great books really shaped my understanding of this small success secret.  I strongly recommend these books to anyone serious about designing their lives – The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen, and Small Changes, Big Results by Jerry Foster and Ed Stewart.

Earlier this year, I saw the compound effect in action again and was inspired to pen this article.


A simple “Good Morning” to trigger cultural change

In Singapore, people barely connect with one another anymore, given our fast pace of life and the influence of technology.  A group called the Morning Greeters came together, with the sole purpose of starting the day positively by greeting people “good morning”… A simple and basic courtesy that we have forgotten in modern Singapore.

The founders are young, enthusiastic and dynamic. They speak of taking baby steps, of spreading positive vibes, of creating patterns and reinforcement, of forging habits through repetition.  They go for morning jobs/ runs in parks around Singapore, deliberately greeting strangers along the way.  They believe that this is the start to inculcating a positive culture, and they have a vision to spread this this across Singapore and grow the positive vibes.

What struck me in our brief interaction with the group was the members’ enthusiasm for a simple cause, the silent confidence of what can be achieved over time, and the explicit awareness that it will take commitment, consistency and persistent effort.  They understand the concept of compounding, and are slowly but surely working towards a cultural shift.


What is the compound effect?

The compound effect is often illustrated in this way – if you doubled 1 cent daily, you will have more than $10 million by the end of 30 days.  So all it takes is for you to invest that 1 cent worth of effort consistently, and you will achieve exponential results.

You can apply this principle to health, wealth, relationships or virtually any area of life.  The reverse also holds true.  For example, if you ate only 125 more calories a day, all else equal, you would have gained 33.5 pounds in 31 months.  Not to mention the ripple effect of the additional weight on your self-esteem, health, work, relationships and so on.

The good news is that anyone can create breakthroughs in their lives through simple daily disciplines, repeated over time.  The bad news is, there is no magic bullet for instant success.

Jeff pointed out that ‘You plant, then you cultivate, and finally you harvest….In today’s world, everyone wants to go directly from plant to harvest’.  Indeed, most people today would prefer to pay for conveniences and quick fixes rather than stick to the work ethics that our forefathers believed in.  That explains why seminars that promise transformation in 3 days, fast foods and “microwave solutions” are selling like hot cakes.  Rags to riches stories are appearing everywhere to feed people’s desire for short-cuts in life.


Applying compound effect to a happy, fulfilled life

I believe it is important to have big dreams and strong goals.  In fact, I’m very much a dreamer myself.   But I’ve come to realize that taking small and consistent actions now could catalyse changes, open new doors, and create more long-term impact than spending time and energy agonizing over how to create a major breakthrough.

Call it the vector principle, the slight edge, or the compound effect – the essence is the same.  Our power to create lies in the present moment, in the now.

So ask yourself, who or what really fulfils you and makes you happy?  Can you increase or improve that by just 1% or even 0.1% now?  Start on it today, then repeat it tomorrow, the day after and so on….Realize that the incremental 1% will translate to 365% improvement by the end of the year.

Alternatively, try applying these few simple questions from The Slight Edge to any area of your life that you wish to improve:

  • What is your desired outcome (Be specific, vivid and indicate a timeline)
  • What is the price you are prepared to pay
  • When you will start (preferably today!)
  • What is the 1 simple daily discipline you will do

Whichever area you choose to focus on, the key is to start today.  As Jim Rohn says, ‘what is simple to do is also simple not to do’.   The sad truth is, most people will agree with these concepts but do absolutely nothing.    Don’t fall into that trap – get started now!

If you need motivation to even get started and to stay the course, read more here.


To the life you’ve always wanted,

Do you have stories or ideas on how to spread happiness and help more people to have the lives they want?  We welcome your articles and contributions!  Contact us or email us at [email protected]!

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