Compound effect refers to the life-changing impact of small actions practiced consistently over time. The term was coined by author Darren Hardy in his book “The Compound Effect”. While these small actions may seem insignificant at first, their effects add up over time.
The compound effect of an action may be either good or bad, depending on the nature of the action. Good habits result in positive compound effect, while bad habits lead to negative compound effect.
Perhaps the concept may be best exemplified by the navigation of an aircraft. If an aircraft diverges from its intended direction even by a negligible amount, it will end up in a completely different destination from the one it planned to reach, in the course of a few hours.
In order to manifest the benefits of compound effect, one should give up the desire for instant gratification and adopt good, sustainable habits. Humans pursue certain bad habits, like smoking, for instant gratification. If the negative consequences of smoking- like lung diseases- had materialized instantly just like the gratification received from it, people would have found it easier to quit.
So, patience is key to realize the benefits of compound effect- one cannot expect to see immediate results of adopting a good habit or giving up a bad one.
Another key component of compound effect is consistency. Studies have shown that those who become complacent and stop improving certain aspects of their lives (like their businesses, personal relationships or physical fitness), tend to lose the outcome of their earlier efforts in the same areas.
When we wish to improve a certain part of our life, we should track our every action related to it. For example, somebody wishing to pay off their debts may start by recording every penny they spend in a notebook. This will help them to identify and cut back on unnecessary purchases.
The earlier we make positive changes in our life, the bigger the compound effect we will be able to enjoy. So, we should start setting clear goals early on in our lives, as the distance between our goals and us can only be covered by the effects of our choices, behavior and habits compounded over time.
Other strategies we can apply to adopt and sustain positive changes include:
- Easing into a good habit bit by bit instead of going in at once- This makes it easier to adopt and hold on to positive changes.
- Finding someone who wants to make the same changes in their lives as we do– This will help us to hold ourselves accountable and motivate us by comparing our progress with them.
- Identifying what triggers our bad habits, and addressing those– For example, an occasional smoker may smoke only in the presence of certain friends. If s/he stops hanging out with them, s/he will find it easier to give up smoking completely.
- Associating with people selectively– This involves mingling more with people who have achieved the success we want to see in our own lives, and dissociating or associating less with people who don’t add value to our lives.
- Focusing on the addition, not subtraction– When trying to give up a bad habit, we should focus on what we will gain from it instead of the pleasure we have to sacrifice, as that will keep us moving in the right direction. For example, if we want to reduce our time spent on social media, we should think about the additional time we will get for physical exercise and our hobbies instead of lamenting our reduced intake of social media content.
Finally, after all the effort we put into improving our lives, we should celebrate achievements to stay motivated.
What improvement do you wish to make in your life? Think about it and get started!