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What You Do Today (and Tomorrow) (and the Next Day) Will Dictate Your Life

October 29, 2015

By: Kimberly Inskeep

When we think about our whole long life, a single day feels like an insignificant drop in the bucket. But as I’ve gotten older, I see it is the string of days compounded together—the drip, drip, drip—that makes every 24-hour cycle critically important.

Author and speaker, John Maxwell claims he could pop into anyone’s home on any random day and after observing them for 24 hours, draw an accurate conclusion about where their life is headed and how successful they will be. How could this minuscule snapshot point to the bigger picture of our life? It does simply because our future success—in any area of life—comes down the habits evidenced today.

Darren Hardy proves the case for daily disciplines in The Compound Effect. If you ever wonder if you are on track to get where you want, read this book to be confronted with the reality that your daily schedule is your ticket to your future. “A daily routine built on good habits is the difference that separates the most successful amongst us from everyone else,” Hardy says.

Think about the role of consistent action over time in these areas of life.

1. Physical Health.

I am not naturally athletic or prone to exercise. Six years ago, I was in a serious bicycle accident I could have avoided had I been stronger. Ever since, I work out in the morning for at least 30 minutes. That half hour over 6 years has given me considerable gains over many of my much more athletic peers who have not stayed consistent with a sport. Still, nearly every morning I don’t want to get up and push myself physically, but my belief in the compound effect propels me to just do it.

2. Vocation.

Our sensational-based media would have us believe in overnight success, when in reality, big achievements come only after lots of the right action and sacrifice over significant periods of time. There are no shortcuts. We need to exemplify this and teach our children to develop the habit of working hard, bit by bit, towards goals. We need to affirm daily efforts—perhaps even more than results.

3. Developing New Skills.

I used to believe I needed big chunks of time in order to learn a new skill. But a massive schedule overhaul isn’t needed. My husband listens to 15 minutes of French a day and is passing up my 8 years of high school and college classes. Likewise, I read for 15 minutes every night, and have plowed through a library of books. Looking for big stretches of time to accomplish growth might never be found.

4. Financial Savings.

Did you know that putting $250 a month into an IRA beginning at age 23 can yield well over $1 million by the time you’re 67 and ready to retire? Those who put away a small monthly amount over the long term are exponentially further ahead of those who put away larger monthly amounts later in life. Passé corporate pensions and a debt-ridden government have made it clear we are on our own. If you’re wishing you’d begun saving earlier, start now. And teach your children to do the same.

5. Spiritual Health.

When I find myself disconnected spiritually, it is always because I’ve let those early morning minutes get taken over by the snooze button. The only way to be truly anchored in one’s beliefs is through consistent daily reflection prioritized before the day begins.

With anything, it’s hard to know where to start and the idea of a daily discipline might have us turning over couch cushions looking desperately for more hours in the day. But really, small tweaks over time build to big results. This is actually very exciting to me as I consider my mid-50 age and the vast number of exciting things I can yet accomplish in my remaining 30-something years if I begin small tweaks today.

I challenge you to think of 2 or 3 things you could do, starting today, and keep up consistently. Habits, once formed, are sticky; once these become a “force of habit” you can add even more, bringing your life to an exponentially more successful place over time.

How has the compound effect rung true in your life?