“The Compound Effect is always working, and it will always take you somewhere. The question is where?” – Darren Hardy.

So what is this compound effect? Most understand the idea of compounding when it comes to our finances. We leave our money in a bank or the market and let it compound so that we build wealth. However, we don’t realize that the compound effect applies to OUR ENTIRE LIVES. Success or failure at anything depends on the small consistent actions we take everyday.

For sure, our daily routine is more critical to our goals than any random large actions we take towards them.

The two donuts I have for breakfast don’t affect me hardly at all today. Yet, if I consistently make that decision, a year from now I’ve gained a significant amount of weight and feel sluggish. Five years from now it could lead to debilitating health issues. All from just two donuts over time.

On the flip side, practicing something constructive, like risk taking every day, can lead to having the courage to make amazing life decisions in six months or a year.

A modest one percent improvement over time leads to stunning and enormous results.

So regardless of where we are right now, the real question is…where are we headed?

How to Apply The Compound Effect

I’m using the concept of the compound effect on this blog. I’ve committed to making this blog at least 1% better everyday for the next year. It’s editing one picture in a new way, 5 minutes of research, or one request for feedback. Some days I do plenty more, but all I have to do (in my mind) is the minimum. One small action every day won’t make or break me, so it’s unlikely I’ll talk myself out of it. Here are some ideas for applying the compound effect to the three tenants of this blog:


Food: It’s very difficult to change the way we eat all at once. Start with just one snack. Commit to making that snack healthy every single day. Work on that until it’s down, then move on to the next snack. Then start on one meal at a time. This has helped me tremendously!

Exercise: Do 2 minutes of exercise. It’s hard to talk the mind out of 2 minutes. Before my last pregnancy, I used this rule to get my running habit back. I started with just 2 minutes of running, even if I knew I could do more. When two minutes got incredibly easy, I added 1 minute for a sum total of 3 minutes. And so on. Doesn’t sound like much, but within a few months I was up to 40 minutes in our hilly neighborhood. There’s no mental overwhelm with just two minutes!


Meditation or prayer: If these seem interesting then start by just spending a few minutes looking into them for a few days. Follow that up with 5 minutes devoted to trying one specific version. The next day, try a different one. Continue until you’ve tried five different versions, and then eventually add a little more time and keep moving forward. 

Family Night/Date Night: Start with just 5 or 10 minutes of prep free time dedicated to your spouse or family. Every week add just 2 more minutes. Set a timer to stay consistent. That’s it!


Goals: To get better at following through, write just one goal every morning or one important task you want to get done that day. After a few days, make that two goals or MITs. After a few weeks, begin reviewing them at night to make sure you are making progress.

Give a gift, thank you, or appreciation to someone: Make it a quick text message to a loved one or say an easy thank you. Once you get the habit down and feel more comfortable, slowly add the bigger items like bringing someone coffee or sending a gift in the mail.

the compound effect

Simple, But Not Always Easy

Now, while this is incredibly simple, it’s not always easy. If it were, I’d be a millionaire, running marathons, and jumping out of airplanes. Yeah…I’m not. Yet, anyways. It’s tempting to want to work on too many things at once and then end up on the couch eating potato chips (I mean, not that I’ve ever done that or anything!!!)

So let’s choose just one thing and commit to a 1% improvement over time. We’ll make it so simple that there’s no good excuse not to do it. By the end of the year we’ll all be stunned by the compounded results.

So, what’s your one thing? What 1% step are you taking today to make progress? 

More About the Insane Power of Compounding Actions

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