Do not fear going slowly; only fear standing still.
Do you ever get frustrated because you’re doing all the right things to reach your goals, but your progress seems stuck at a snail’s pace? Around 550 B.C., Aesop offered some relevant advice in the fable about the Tortoise and the Hare. We’ve all heard the story, but we seem to have forgotten the lesson: slow and steady wins the race.
To give you a modern example, I’d like to pose a question. Suppose someone offered you this deal: you could receive three million dollars today, or you could get one cent today — but your total would be doubled each day for thirty-one days. So on day two, you would have two cents; on day three, you’d have four cents; by day four, you would have eight cents; and by day five, it would be sixteen cents. Which would you choose?
In case you’ve never seen this scenario worked out, let me give you a few more tips. On day ten, your total would be up to $5.12; by day fifteen, it would have grown to $163.84. Did you make your decision yet? By day 20, you’d have $5,242.88 and by day 25, your penny is now $167,772.16. So which option would you choose?
If you took the more obvious choice — three million up front — you would have made a huge mistake. By day 31, the person who started with one cent would have $10,737,418.24.
While this exercise is fascinating, you’re probably wondering how it applies to life. It turns out that there’s a powerful, direct connection. You see, our circumstances in life are the result of very small actions repeated over time. And our results are compounded, just like the penny.
Eating unhealthy for one day doesn’t make a lasting impact on your physical condition. But maintaining a poor diet will lead to lots of health issues in time.
Reading one self-improvement book won’t dramatically change your circumstances. Developing a continuous education plan and sticking to it for a few years will have a major impact on your life.
Saving $5 today won’t change your financial situation. But saving $5 a day for a few years and investing it will alter your situation for the better.
It’s easy to look at a highly successful person and think that their success just happened overnight. It’s also easy to look at a homeless person and believe that their situation changed rapidly. But in both cases, if you dig deeper, you’ll often find that lots of small choices made over a long period of time directly contributed to their current circumstances.
If you truly want to change your life for the better, start making small daily improvements. Become aware of the little things that have the potential to affect your health, wealth and relationships. You don’t need to completely overhaul your life; just pick some small actions and start making minor changes.
It’s difficult to believe that one cent doubled over thirty-one days could grow to over ten million dollars — but it would. It will take more than a month to see the results of minor changes in your life. But two or three years of consistent small changes will produce results that are just as staggering. Commit yourself to a steady course of small improvements. The consistency of the changes, compounded over time, will pay off with massive results.
Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.
Copyright © 2018 John Chancellor