This post is Part 2 in my review and notes for Darren Hardy’s, The Compound Effect. For Part 1 – click here.
The next section of this book (chapter 3) is all about habits. This chapter is probably the best section in this book, and could be a standalone book itself. The best way to start this section is with a quote:
Aristotle wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do.” The dictionary defines habit this way: “An acquired mode of behavior that is become nearly or completely involuntary.”
There have been many books on habits. Everyone has their own take on how to form habits, which habits to form, and the best formula for maintaining those habits. After reading multiple authors’ takes on habits, it all starts running together.
But what really struck a chord with me in The Compound Effect was Hardy’s focus on 2 aspects: 1) How Small Changes Can Make Big Differences, and 2) Your Reason Why.
How Small Changes Can Make Big Differences
“The slightest adjustments to your daily routines can dramatically alter the outcomes in your life. Super-small, seemingly inconsequential adjustments can and will revolutionize everything.”
In general I think people psyche themselves out way too often, myself included. We tend to over analyze things to the point instead of doing something, we do nothing. Here is an example that most people can relate to: Current situation = You are overweight, out of shape, or both. Solution = eat healthy & exercise. Sounds simple right? Yes, it actually is simple, but our minds tend to operate in extremes… so instead of eating heating food and exercising – we tell ourselves we must only eat 500 calories a day and do crossfit 10 times a week. First, that is a recipe for disaster. Second, it is unrealistic. But your mind thinks that is what you have to do – so its all or nothing… If you don’t follow that regime, you decide to not do anything.
But what if you simply cut something from your diet? Or limited yourself to consuming it only once per week? That is feasible, right? And instead of trying to be a gym rat, only to get burnt out after a month – what if you tried doing a simple 5 or 10 minute exercise at home? These are easy solutions to get you the results you want…. But the key is CONSISTENCY! Make it a habit to do pushups when you wake up or drink 2 liters of water, or whatever else is appropriate – but don’t overwhelm yourself to the point that you do nothing. Develop a personal daily routine that you can stick with and it will change everything.
Your Reason Why
Many people believe that if they just have enough will-power they can muster there way through anything. While that is a nice thought, it isn’t true. Everyone has at one time in their life has set New Year’s Resolutions that you have every intention of carrying throughout the year – only to “give up” by mid February. Setting goals and trying to form new habits or coming up with ways kick old ones is a great. But sheer willpower can’t carry you the distance. You must have a solid reason WHY behind each of those habits and goals.
“Until you set your desire and motivation in place, you’ll abandon any new path you seek to better your life if you’re why-power – your desire – isn’t great enough, if the fortitude of your commitment isn’t powerful enough, you’ll end up like every other person who makes a New Year’s resolution and gives up early.”
In the book, Hardy illustrates this concept with an analogy. It goes something like this:
If I put a 10 inch wide 30 foot-long plank on the ground and said if you walked the length of the plank, I’ll give you $20, would you do it? Of course you would. But what if I took the same plank and made a rooftop bridge between two 100 story buildings? That same $20 for walking the 30 foot plank no longer looks desirable or even possible does it?
However if your child was on the opposite building and that building was on fire would you walked the length of plank to save him? Without question and immediately – you do it. $20 or not.
Why is it that the first time I asked you to cross that skyhigh plank, you said no way, yet the second time you wouldn’t hesitate? The risk and the dangers are the same. What changed? Your why changed – your reason for wanting to do it.
“You see, when the reason why is big enough, you will be willing to perform almost any how.”
Game Changers: Five Strategies for Eliminating Bad Habits
Your habits are learned; therefore, they can be unlearned.
- Identify Your Triggers for Bad Habits – Who, What, Where, When
- Clean House – get rid of whatever enables your bad habits
- Swap It – replace with good habits, or delete
- Ease In – gradual changes
- Or Jump In – sudden changes
Run a Vice Check – From pg. 83
“Every so often I go on a “vice fast.” I pick one vice, and check to be sure I’m still the alpha dog in our relationship. About every three months I pick one vice and abstain for 30 days. I love proving to myself but I’m still in charge. If you find it seriously difficult to abstain for 30 days, you may have found a habit worth cutting out of your life.”
Game Changers: Six Techniques for Installing Good Habits
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
– John C Maxwell
- Set yourself up to succeed. Any new habit has to work inside your life and lifestyle. One strategy I use is to have protein on hand. I cook up a bunch of chicken on Sunday, and package it and have it ready for the week.
- Think addition, not subtraction. – what can you add in to your life?
- Go for a PDA: Public display of accountability.
- Find a success buddy.
- Competition and camaraderie.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge.”
– Dr. MLK Jr.
When you press on despite difficulty, tedium, and hardship, that’s when you earn your improvement and gain strides on the competition. If it’s hard, awkward or tedious, so be it. Just do it. And keep doing it, and the magic of the compound effect will reward you handsomely.