The Power of Compounding

Contrary to what many of you believe, this post is not going to be about finances.  Many are aware of the word "compound" as it relates to the phrase compound interest.  For those who are unaware, this is the idea where money is earned through interest by which replicates itself for long term growth.  In short, money earns money.  Sadly, most know this idea on the debt side when looking at the credit card statement.  You ever wonder why it takes so long to pay off a debt.  It is because the amount owed compounds over time. 

Nevertheless, I am going to apply this idea to a variety of areas.

Only One Avenue

Have you ever noticed that people only focus their efforts on one thing.  What I mean is that most individuals take an all or none approach to life.  No matter what the area, there is a preferred method to follow and that is it.  Using finances, how do most people make their money?  Obviously, it is from their jobs.  One source of income.  The same is true for exercise.  The majority of people pursue one activity which is their favorite.  For example, some lift weights.  Others dance.  Still others walk or jog.  Either way, there is a preferred model which is followed.

The problem with this approach is one needs to be 100% accurate (correct) to realize any major benefits.  In the area of health, lifting weights is definitely a pathway which will yield outcomes that are favorable.  Adding muscle through weight training helps the body to burn new calories entering the body and eat away at fat (stored calories).  However, just lifting weights will not increase overall health if everything else is ignored.  Diet is proven to be a major component to one's health and the effects of weight training can be negated if one is surviving on candy and donuts.  One avenue will not achieve the optimum end.

The idea of compounding is to combine as many beneficial acts together so that they can start to duplicate themselves.  In the health example, while weight lifting adds a certain benefit, this can be multiplied by one eating a high protein diet (if one is seeking weight).  At the same time, if one is seeking to lose weight, this coupled with a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats will work better than just a dietary drink along.  The added muscle will help to burn more calories thus speeding up the process.

Most areas of life can be improved if one will only apply this idea.  No matter where one is starting from, there are a number of different activities which will have a positive approach.  You job is to determine which of these actions will have the greatest impact and do as many as possible.  In fact, this is the best way to get out of a rut.  Make a list of all that can be done and do as much as possible.  Each action will build upon the previous.

Little Things Do Make A Difference

I am a big believer in the effectiveness of changing one's life by making thousands of small changes.  Everyone is continually seeking out the major change and, at times, these are necessary.  However, often people will achieve the same results by making a series of smaller changes which, over time, amount to a great deal.  This is the premise of compounding.

Again, we will go back to health.  There are hundreds of things I could list as ways to improve your health.  Let us suppose you are overweight and in terrible shape.  What are some of the things you can immediately do which will alter your path over the next two years?

Here is a brief list:

-Eliminate donuts, candy, soda, creamers, salty snacks, and breads from your diet
-Walk each night for 20 minutes
-Stretch daily
-Quit smoking and excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages
-Park your car at the far end of the parking lot to walk extra steps
-Do 20-30 air squats a couple times a day
-Drink 8 glasses of water throughout the day
-Eliminate coffee and other caffeine laden beverages
-Eat a salad with every meal
-Have vegetables with each meal
-Eat breakfast in the morning
-Jump rope
-Implement weight training a couple of times a week
-Buy a push lawnmower and mow you own lawn
-Eat fish 2-3 times per week
-Eliminate sugary cereals
-Skip fast food places forever
-Walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator

Notice how many items are already on the list.  Some of these require great effort.  However, much of this list is rather simple to implement.  Parking far away from the building adds extra steps without creating much work.  Sure it is difficult in the rain and cold but when it comes to health, can you afford to risk it.  The point is the more of this list that you implement, the greater the chance of success.  And this is true in all walks of life.

Compounding says that the results are greater than the totality of the parts.  Because of the power of compounding, one will received an increased benefit as compared to doing a single action.  For example, losing 20 pounds will make one feel great.  At the same time, stretching and increasing one's flexibility feels the same.  But, imagine how good one feels after losing 20 pounds and gaining increased flexibility through stretching.  The net result is greater when both are combined as opposed to each activity on its own.

Therefore, I challenge you to take an area of your life that is less than stellar at this moment.  Once you have that, sit down and list all the actions which will have a positive effect in that area.  Consider both the addition of some actions which are beneficial along with the elimination/reduction of actions which are negative.  Make this list as long as possible overlooking nothing.  Put even the most minor of activities on there.  The reason being is that the more you do in this particular area, the better the results will be.  And let us not forget, what seems minor on its own could have a terrific effect long term.  Remember, small actions taken over a long period of time will have great effect. 

If your life is progressing well and you are uncertain of an area to focus here is an idea for you: list all the things you can to do live to be 100 years old.

What better way to improve your life than by extending it a decade or two?
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