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How small actions can conquer anything (the power of compounding interest in life)

So you’ve started writing your book (or building your website, or organizing your gang) and you’re at a standstill.

After a week of consistent, daily action, you find yourself too swamped in trivial tasks to do the important work.

You’ll pick it up next week, you think to yourself.

Don’t.

Put the trivial tasks to the side – immediately.

Right now, focus for 25 minutes on one small action associated with your project.

Here’s why:

Compounding interest.

Compounding interest is the financial theory that interest created from the principal (the initial investment) is added back into the principal, so, from that moment on, the interest made and reinvested will also earn interest.

 the power of compounding interest

It applies to life as easily as it does to bank accounts.

That small action today doesn’t mean much, nor does tomorrow’s small action, nor the day after’s small action.

But small action, like packing snow and rolling it, builds on itself.  After rolling that snowball for 30 feet, you’re looking at a massive boulder.

After taking small actions daily for 30 weeks, you’re looking at a completed book, a flourishing startup, or a growing and powerful gang.

Success builds on success.

That’s why consistent, daily, small action – no matter how small – is so important.

When you’ve been on the path for a while, whether you recognize it or not, you are creating interest on your principal investment (the time and sweat of creative work), and that interest will continue to compound as long as you continue to do the work.

You may be starting small, but trust me, progress is always exponential and it always starts small.  Those who ‘make it’ aren’t smarter, more privileged, or luckier…they just kept at it.

“It’s easy to become healthy, fit and vibrant.  It’s easy to become financially independent.  It’s easy to have a happy family and a life rich with meaningful friendships.  Tapping into the Slight Edge means doing things that are easy.  Simple, little disciplines that, done consistently over time, will add up to the very biggest accomplishments.” – Jeff Olson [The Slight Edge]

So keep at it.

Yes, it seems overwhelming, especially when you’re swamped with chores, tasks, meetings, and things out of your control.  And since we’re conditioned from birth for instant gratification, not seeing immediate results from your hard work is disconcerting.

But just remember, it is consistent effort over time that makes the difference.

And be careful of that voice in your head that tells you to stop or take a break.  His words are venomous.  That’s the Resistance talking – trying to keep you from doing your truly important work.

So remember these simple steps:

1)    Put away the chores, tasks, phone calls, etc.

  • Turn off the phone and put everything away.  If you need to, have a notebook on your desk to write down random ‘to-dos’ that pop into your head (and they most definitely will as soon as you start doing creative work).  This way, you can write down the task and get back to work.

2)    Stay Shortsighted

  • Everything is easy if you focus on the individual task in front of you.  Pick the low hanging fruit – whether it’s the first sentence or paragraph, or calling a vendor about a sale.  Don’t waste too much time deciding which one to do first, just pick and go.

3)     Time yourself for 25 minutes

  • Simply put a timer on (I use an internet based timer: timer.onlineclock.net) and then don’t stop working until it rings.

4)    Focus on compounding interest. 

  • When you’ve finished your small action, your 25 minutes of work, put it all away and know that nothing major will come from just one small action.  But many small actions over time can build empires.  This is especially important to help you get through that second and third week of action (arguably the most important – the point after you’ve lost the adrenaline and the dopamine from your awesome idea…when ‘reality’ starts to kick in).

Most of all, remember this:

“every action that is easy to do, is also easy not to do.” – Jeff Olson

That says it all.

It’s easy to do, and it’s easy not to do.

In the context of the people you know and the world we live, is it any wonder that many find themselves in the positions they do?  Regret seems to be a theme among the majority.

It’s easy to do.  It’s easy not to do.

“You can’t lose.  Go.” – Seth Godin [Poke the Box]

Now I’ve got a challenge for you…

Leave a comment below and let us know how you’ve applied small actions in your own life.

If you enjoyed the article, feel free to share it with those who need it the most (you may know better than they do whether they need it or not).

And if you want more insights like this, sign up for my newsletter and receive a free copy of my book: The Art of Instigating.

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