The Secret to Achieving Overnight Success The Right Way (The Compound Effect)
Every day, marketing messages promise us to get rich, fit, younger, sexier overnight for only small sums of money.
These kinds of messages have distorted our sense of what it really takes to succeed and achieve our goals.
The truth is, when it comes to success, there’s no secret formula or quick fix that will make you successful overnight.
But this is not how things work.
— Dwayne Johnson
Earning success is a laborious, slow, sometimes even boring process.
In other words, you don’t need more information to become successful. You already know all that you need to succeed.
What you really need is a new plan of action. You need to create new behaviors and habits that are oriented toward success.
Today you’re going to discover the importance of the Compound Effect and how to use it to achieve your goals and succeed in life.
Let’s get started!
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#1. The Compound Effect
The compound effect is the payoff of applying positive habits consistently over an extended period of time.
No matter how subtle the change is, the results can be massive over time.
Most people quit soon after they start a new habit because the changes are too small, or they’re not getting the immediate results they were expecting.
They might quit running after a week because they’re still overweight or they might stop making contribution to their IRA after a few months because it doesn’t seem to be adding up to much.
What they don’t realize is that these small steps applied consistently will create massive results over time.
How cutting 125 calories a day can help you lose 30 pounds?
For example, if someone cuts 125 calories from his diet every day (e.g. a cup of cereal less) and starts walking a couple of thousand extra steps per day (less than a mile), by the end of the month, he won’t see any noticeable changes.
But, by the end of month twenty-eight, he would lose thirty pounds by simply cutting 125 calories a day.
28 month = 850 days
850 days x 125 calories/day = 106,250 calories saved
106,250 calories saved x 1 pound/3,500 calories = 30 pounds
The same principle could be applied to someone who added 125 calories a day. He’ll find himself overweight 30 pounds more after twenty-eight months.
How to make the compound effect work for you?
1. Write down excuses you might be clinging to (e.g., not smart enough, not experienced enough, wrong upbringing, don’t have the formal education, etc.).
2. Decide to make up in hard work and personal growth to surpass anyone— including your old self.
3. Choose a goal and write down small steps you can take every day that will compound your results upward
4. Write down the small actions you can stop doing that might be preventing you from achieving your goals.
5. List a few goals you achieved in the past. Consider whether you could be taking those for granted and set small steps to continue on improving them.
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#2. Making Better Choices
Our lives are simply the accumulation of all the choices we make.
These choices, be it small or big, can deliver us to our goals, or send us far away from them.
Every choice starts a behavior that over time becomes a habit.
Even if you don’t choose at all, you’ve already made the choice to be a passive recipient of whatever comes your way.
Every choice has an impact on the compound effect of your life.
By becoming aware of the choices you’re making and starting to make conscious choices, you’ll be able to stop doing the things that are pulling you into the wrong direction and start making decisions that lead to habits that support you.
1. Taking Full Responsibility For Your Own Choices
Making choices requires taking 100 percent responsibility for your own life.
When you completely own all of your choices and all the ways you responded to whatever happened to you, you hold power.
You stop finger-pointing, victimizing yourself, blaming others, or expecting someone else to solve your problems and make you happy.
For example, if you’ve been late, maybe you should consider leaving your house earlier instead of blaming the traffic.
2. Tracking Your Choices
You cannot improve something until you measure it.
The best way to become aware of the choices you make in any area and start making conscious choices is to:
1. Pick up an area in your life that you want to improve or change (finances, relationships, health, parenting…) and,
2. Start tracking every action that relates to the area of your life you want to improve.
For example, if you decide to get out of debt and save money, start tracking every penny you spend. If you want to lose weight, start tracking everything you put in your mouth.
Carry around a small notebook, or use your phone to write it all down.
This will bring an instantaneous awareness of the many unconscious choices you are making that prevent you from reaching your goals.
3. How To Make Better Choices?
1. Write down list of:
– Things that you have done in the past and that have prevented you from success.
– Things that you should have done to succeed but didn’t.
– Things that happened to you, but you responded poorly and didn’t take 100 percent responsibility for them.
– Things that you can start doing today to take responsibility for the outcomes of your life.
2. Pick up an area of your life that you’d like to change or improve (finances, relationship, health, parenting…) and start tracking at least one behavior in that area.
#3. Build Better Habits
We’re creatures of habits.
They allow us to use minimal conscious energy for everyday tasks such as brushing our teeth, fastening the seatbelt as soon as we get into the car, grocery shop to prepare a healthy dinner, go for a run after work, positive self-talk…
They also allow us to focus our mental energy on creative thoughts. And these habits are what separates the successful from the unsuccessful.
In fact, successful people aren’t necessarily more talented or more intelligent than the rest of the people, they simply have a daily routine that is built on good habits.
These habits are taking them in the direction of becoming more knowledgeable, better skilled, and better prepared.
1. Instant Gratification Is a Trap
The payoff or instant gratification derived from bad habits outweighs the long-term payoff of good habits.
Indulging in bad habits doesn’t seem to have any negative effects at the moment, and good habits don’t seem to have that much positive effect at the moment.
However, in the long-term, the compound effect is activated and our small, seemingly insignificant habits can either deliver us to our goals or send us far away from them.
2. Finding Your Why-Power (It’s not Willpower That You Lack)
When you’re having trouble working on achieving your dreams, it’s not willpower of choosing to be successful that you lack.
What you really need to keep you consistent with the new positive choices you need to make and stop you from falling back into your mindless bad habits, is your why-power – that is your dreams and desires.
When your choices are aligned with your purpose and your highest values, that’s what will motivate you to achieve your dreams.
Your why is the fuel of your persistence and the source of your enthusiasm. Once you find your “Why”, you’ll be willing to perform almost any “How”.
3. You simply won’t be fulfilled without your why-power
Without a clear “Why”, any achievement or success, won’t give you the extraordinary joy or sense of meaning you’re seeking.
To find your why-power, you need to define your core values.
These values are what defines both who you are and what you stand for.
They act as a filter through which you run all of your life’s demands, dreams, temptations…
When your actions are in conflict with your core values, you end up feeling unhappy, frustrated, and unsatisfied.
In fact, psychologists tell us that nothing creates more stress than when our actions aren’t in line with our values.
For example, if loyalty is a big value for you, but you cheat on your partner, then there’s a conflict.
1. Defining your core values will also help make your life simpler by making your decision-making process a lot easier.
2. When faced with a choice, all you have to do is to ask yourself “is this in line with my core values?” If it does, do it. If not, don’t.
How to Build Better Habits?
1. Choose your most important goal at the moment and write down a list of:
– The habits you have that are supporting your most important goal.
– The habits that are taking you off course from your most important goal.
– The new habits you need to develop to help you achieve your most important goal faster.
2. Discover your core motivation and why-power. Identify what motivates you to achieve big results.
#4. Set Specific Goals
The compound effect is always working, taking you somewhere.
This is why it’s important to make a conscious decision of where you want to go.
In other words, you must know where you want to go and set it as a clearly defined goal.
When you focus your creative power on a well-defined target, you can almost achieve anything you want.
In fact you can only get what you look for.
So when you consciously instruct your brain to look for the things you want, you’ll start seeing and experiencing them.
And this is how the Law of attraction really works.
“We are bombarded with billions of sensory (visual, audio, physical) bites of information each day. To keep ourselves from going insane, we ignore 99.9 percent of them, only really seeing, hearing, or experiencing those upon which our mind focuses. This is why, when you “think” something, it appears that you are miraculously drawing it into your life. In reality, you’re now just seeing what was already there. You are truly “attracting” it into your life. It wasn’t there before or accessible to you until your thoughts focused and directed your mind to see it.” – Darren Hardy – The Compound Effect
By clearly defining your goals, you give your brain something to focus on and look for.
How you experience the world and what ideas, people, and opportunity you draw into your life shift in order to match up your goals.
“Top people have very clear goals. They know who they are and they know what they want. They write it down and they make plans for its accomplishment. Unsuccessful people carry their goals around in their head like marbles rattling around in a can, and we say a goal that is not in writing is merely a fantasy.” – Brian Tracy
#5. Have a Success Mindset
1. Surround Yourself With Successful People
People who are always complaining, blaming others for their circumstances, judging others, and spreading negative gossip, can totally drain you of energy.
Avoid these people at all costs. You’re better off alone than spending time with people who will hold you back.
Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive and uplifting people.
There many places where you can find successful people.
You can join a professional association, attend conferences, seminars, and courses, volunteer for leadership positions…
2. Acknowledge Your Past Achievements
We tend to remember our past mistakes and failure more than our past successes. We underappreciate the number of successes we’ve had in comparison to the number of failures we’ve had.
Acknowledging your past successes can significantly boost your self-esteem and build up your confidence to take on bigger risks.
List Your Achievements
Start by writing down a list of 10 achievements you’ve made in the past week. It might seem difficult for you to come up with this many successes.
In fact, even though we had many more successes than failures in our lives, we set the bar too high for what we call a success.
This makes it difficult to remember anything you did right in the past week, let alone in the past year.
Start with an inventory of your major successes such as getting a degree, a good job, publishing a book, starting your own business… then move on to the smaller successes such as a first summer job, getting an A in history class, getting married, getting your driver’s license, having your first child…
Aim to list 100 achievements.
3. Maintain Your Positive Focus
Successful people are constantly proactive in the pursuit of their goals. They keep their eyes on the prize rather than all the distractions and obstacles that life presents to them.
A powerful way to remain focused on the positive is to set aside 30 minutes just before going to sleep to list your accomplishments, review your goals, and write down your to-do list for the next day.
Studies show that while you’re sleeping, your unconscious mind is replaying and processing your late-night input six times more than anything else that happened during the day.
If you drift off to sleep while watching the news, images of war and crime would be imprinted into your consciousness.
This is why it’s important to read a self-development book or listing to inspirational audio before going to sleep.
Another powerful exercise to maintain your positive focus is visualizing your ideal next day after planning it. Visualize every call going well, every meeting starting and ending on time, all your tasks being completed.
See yourself performing at your best. This will make subconscious work all night on finding ways to meet your visualization.
4. Complete Your Incompletes
In order to succeed at anything 6 steps are required to get the desired result; Decide, Plan, Start, Continue, Finish, and Complete.
Often people get all the way through the finishing stage without completing whatever they’ve started, whether it was a project they left uncompleted or people they failed to get closure with.
When you have something left incomplete, it’s hard to fully embrace the present.
In fact, whatever you have ongoing, is taking some of your attention, leaving you with little attention to dedicate to completing present tasks and embracing new opportunities.
These incompletes are usually put off because of an emotional block. You might put off requests because you’re afraid to say no. You might avoid making a decision because it’s difficult or uncomfortable for you to decide upon that matter.
Ask yourself, “What does it take to actually get this task completed?”
You have 4 options to deal with uncompleted tasks; Do it, Delegate it, Delay it, or Dump it.
Whatever you have at hand, decide whether you’ll do anything with it.
If not, dump it.
If you can take care of it within 10 minutes, do it immediately.
If it’s going to take longer, delay it.
If you don’t have to do it yourself, or you don’t want to do it, delegate it to someone who can do it best, and make sure that person reports back when he finishes the task so you know it’s complete.
5. Make Peace With Your Past And Embrace Your Future
A corollary of the item above, it’s also important to release any past baggage that is weighing your down in order to move faster and succeed more easily.
Perhaps you’re holding on to your past hurts, anger, or incompletes. Releasing these anchors is essential in order to embrace your future.
Forgiving is a powerful way to move on from your past.
Many reported that forgiving has helped them relieve physical pain like a migraine or chronic constipation.
Some even reported an increase in their productivity and income.
In fact, resentment and anger can waste so much of your energy that could be devoted to working on your goals.
Whatever happened in the past, learn your lesson so you won’t repeat the same mistake again. Then, release it and forgive.
6. Face What Isn’t Working
This means to stop ignoring how toxic your work environment is, how bad your marriage is, how excessive your weight has become…
Always pay attention to warning signs that something isn’t working. These signs can be things like your teen coming late again from school, an odd comment from more than one friend, a gut feeling…
Facing what’s not working in your life means you have to do acknowledge these sings.
Then, consciously, take the appropriate action no matter how uncomfortable it might be.
Perhaps you need to exercise more self-discipline, confront someone, ask for what you want, facing your fear of not being liked, or even quit your job or get a divorce.
7. Embrace Change
Change is inevitable. The world around you is changing every day, and unless you embrace change and choose to benefit from it, you’ll get run over by it.
If you feel uncomfortable making a change, try to remember the changes you had to go through in the past.
It might be a house move, a job transfer, or even your teenager going to college. If you were able to deal with it back then, then you can definitely deal with the current change.
8. Ignore The Negative Self-Talk
Studies show that the average person talks to himself about 50,000 times a day and that 80% of these times are negative.
Thoughts such as “They don’t like me,” or “I can’t do it,” not only have a negative effect on your self-esteem and confidence but also control your behavior and paralyze you when it comes to taking action on your goals.
The key to dealing with these negative thoughts is to realize that you’re in charge of whether to agree or not with the thought. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean it’s true.
Like a radio constantly playing in the background, you can choose to focus on what you’re doing here and now, while it broadcasts its negative stories.
You don’t have to fight it. Just ask yourself is this thought helpful in any way? Is it motivating me to take action? If not, then choose to focus on something else.
9. Challenge Your Limiting Beliefs
By identifying these limiting beliefs, you’ll be able to replace them with positive ones that will support your success.
A powerful way to start believing that you’re capable of success is observing others who had reached goals similar to yours, and considering all the recorded knowledge and the educational material available today teaching you how to reach your goal.
If someone did it, then so can you.
10. Develop Four New Success Habits A Year
Your habits determine the quality of your life, from your job and income to your relationships and health.
This is why it’s important to change your bad habits (watching too much TV, smoking, eating fast food every day, procrastinating, arriving late for meeting and appointments, spending more than you earn…) and in their place establish habits that are going to support your success and personal growth (getting 8 hours of quality sleep every night, reading for an hour every day, exercising at least three times a week, saving 10% of your income…).
Start identifying the bad habits in your life and figure out a way to replace them with good ones. Then develop a system that will help support these new habits.
For example, if you want to start reading more, go to bed 1 hour earlier and set your alarm ahead. These small, seemingly insignificant good habits completed consistently, over time, will create a radical difference.
11. Learn More To Earn More.
Knowledge can give you a tremendous advantage over other people who don’t have it. One hour every day of reading in your field, or attending classes and training programs regularly can be enough to give you the knowledge you need to succeed.
This is to say that, despite claiming that they have no time, people actually have enough time to learn and attend classes.
Cutting out 1 hour of television a day can create enough time to get through 66 books a year (assuming book lengths average out to 90,000 words). Another way to learn is through audio material. In fact, the average person commutes 1 hour every day.
You can use this time to listen to an audiobook that will give you the knowledge you need to excel in any area of your life.
Life is constantly changing and new information is growing at a whirlwind speed. This is why you need to commit yourself to lifelong learning.
12. Fuel Your Success With Passion.
Passion is what provides the continual focus and energy you need to reach your goals and succeed.
This passion is what makes people fully committed to their work, and eager to get up in the morning and get started. This passion comes from within, from doing something you love. If you love what you’re doing, then success is guaranteed.
The first thing you need to do to develop this passion, is to ask yourself “Am I doing what I love to do?”
If the answer is no, then figure out what would rather do. Imagine you have enough money that you don’t have to work another day in your life, what would you to with your day? What is the most thing that makes you feel fulfilled and happy?
If you think that you’re not skilled enough to do what you love to do, then start educating yourself and learning the skills you need. Start doing it on the side while maintaining your current job.
We love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Wondering what to read next?
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- Think Like a Winner: 7 Ways to Think Your Way to Success
- 10 Laws of Success That Will Change Your Life
- 21 Success Secret of Self-Made Millionaires
- 9 Success Principles Successful People Live By
- 6 Habits of Self-Made Millionaires
- How To Transform Yourself For Success: 12 Steps To Take Today To Change Your Life
- How To Use The Compound Effect To Succeed In Life
- ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Not The Answer – Here’s What To Do Instead
- How to Successfully Make Changes in Life by Mastering These Three Keys
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Portions of this article were adapted from the book The Compound Effect, © 2010 by Darren Hardy. All rights reserved.