The Power of Compounding
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
The power of compounding extends to personal habits.
We often hear about the power of compounding when it comes to finances. The simple math says that given a large enough timespan, consistent small returns and repeated investment will balloon into a large return.
Today, I’d like to talk about the power of compounding as it relates to personal habits.
The most obvious category is that of fitness and nutrition. As anyone who works out knows, the first months of working out are by far the hardest.
Not only do you lack the stamina and/or strength, which in turn may make you insecure about your performance in front of others, but you also are impatient in seeing results.
That’s why I recommend starting small and steady to anyone who is looking to get in shape. Even half an hour of exercise 2-3 times a week is miles ahead of a completely sedentary lifestyle.
As you experiment with your workouts, whether it involves going to the gym, playing a sport, or working out at home, you’ll begin to grow well acquainted with the limits of your body. From there, depending on your genetic predispositions and your goals, you can begin to ramp up your intensity.
Take it from me, someone who was a soaking wet 110 pounds in freshman year of high school. The progress is slow, but the progress is there. Each singular workout is just a small piece in the much larger puzzle.
Particularly with exercising, the release of endorphins means that if you find a method of exercising that you enjoy—it will go from being a chore to an addiction. Nowadays, I can’t help but spend two hours in the gym every time I go.
No conversation about compounding in fitness would be complete without a mention of nutrition. Some people think they can out run, or out lift a bad diet.
The fact of the matter is, 60-70% of your workout results come from your diet (and sleep). Again, this is one that is immensely hard to change, especially depending on your circumstances.
It’s possible you live at home and have little control over what is cooked, or that you live alone and have a tight budget to work with.
It’s possible to have a conversation with your parents about cooking different meals, or perhaps buying your own groceries and cooking for yourself. If all else, fails, you could eat smaller portions, or serve yourself and prioritize healthier calories.
Financially, there are actually few excuses. It is possible to eat a filling and healthy diet for cheap. You may grow tired of the few meal combinations that are possible, but you also have room to eat out here and there, or switch it up with a few cheat meals.
If you combine a consistent workout routine, with a consistent healthy diet, the power of compounding is multiplied. Depending on where you’re starting from, it is possible to see a noticeable change within a month if you stick to everything.
Although, missing one or the other component is a recipe for slowed progress.
This year I’ve begun the process of learning meditation. I’ve read that meditation is the equivalent of working out from the mind.
The first few sessions I’ve tried have confirmed that claim. I found it immensely difficult to clear my mind, and there was definitely some initial discouragement. Given my own experiences with working out though, I know I simply have to power through and face the challenge head on, until I’ll eventually be meditating with ease.
The final compounding topic that I believe deserves a highlight is that of organization.
What do I mean by organization?
There are obviously varying degrees, but I’m referring broadly to the act of scheduling your weeks/days, keeping important documents carefully sorted in cloud accessible folders, using some sort of productivity/workspace (like Notion.so), tracking your finances, keeping your email clutter free, keeping your room/home neat, so on and so forth.
Depending on how unorganized you’re starting from, this could be a serious pain in the ass. The startup costs of decluttering your entire life, from the digital to the physical, can be so daunting that most people wouldn’t dare attempt it.
Take it from someone who lives their life in this obsessively organized way—life is extremely easy and pleasurable.
You don’t have to take it to extreme and have every minute of your day planned out, never tolerate a crumb on the floor, or an unread email, but I assure you, even a mild form of organization will serve you in your personal and professional life.
The longer that you continue your organization, the more beneficial it will be.
Think big, but act small.