The Compounding Effect

Back in high school we learned about compound interest. The way it worked is that after you deposit some money into your bank account,  it earns some interest at the end of every year. If you deposited 1000 ksh, at the end of the year, you get an extra 100 ksh with a 10% interest rate. While this may seem small, over time this amount of money will keep accumulating until after 10 or 20 years where it will double or triple the original amount.

The compounding effect works more or less like compound interest in the bank. For every task that you do consistently, you get better, or you gain more of that specific skill. If you are a dancer and you dance an hour a day, with time you will start to get better and this works for everything we do. Think about your first day on the job and how you are today, if you are a freelancer think about your first job and client and where you are now. Think about athletes’ who wake up every day to run getting ready for the Olympics, or a student at school who starts revising weeks before the exam a day at a time. These people, at the end of the day, get what they want and it happens because of the compounding effect.

The compounding effect implies that for whatever task you do, you will get better at it as long as you do it consistently. And this effect applies to everything we do. For me as a blogger, the compounding effect makes me a better blogger with each post I make. For the guy at the gym, the compounding effect makes him stronger and makes his muscles larger. It may not be obvious in the beginning but over time this effect delivers on whatever you invest in it.

The thing I found interesting about this effect is that it applies to anything that we do. Think about people with weight problems. First they started eating something unhealthy. The effects could not be seen then but over time as they indulged in their unhealthy eating habits, the fat content in their body compounded and now they want more than anything to lose weight. Think also about drug addicts. I don’t know of anyone who starts doing drugs with the intent of being an addict but it happens any way, why? Because for smokers, they started with one cigarette a week, then two, then three, then one cigarette a day until now a few months or years later, they need a pack to keep them going. The thing about this effect is that while it’s very significant in our lives, we rarely take the time to observe its changes and that’s why the changes catch us off guard, because they took place one small effect after another over a long period of time.

Now, with this in mind, can we use this effect to our advantage? Yes we can. A popular piece of advice given to those who want to be successful is start small. With the compounding effect, this advice works very well. Want to get fit? Instead of rushing for that gym membership, start with simple basic exercises. Start by walking every day, then start jogging, then do some basic exercises at home and in with time you will notice the difference. If you want to eat healthier, instead of changing everything all at once, start small. Start with a fruit before every meal then start taking out the foods you know are not good for you and with time you will be looking and feeling better. This effect works for anything you can think of including addictions, the only thing to note is that you have to be consistent for this to work. So for whatever you do or are doing, remember that this effect is in play. Put in the right set of actions and you will reap success at the end of your day.

Have a nice day 🙂

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The Value of Time

Time is the most valuable thing on earth, nothing compares to it. Once it’s gone, it can never be redeemed. It is always moving and it never stops. It is always moves forward and never backward. Everything on earth depends on time and nothing happens before it. Everything requires time to get done and without time, we have nothing. So with this in mind, what really is the value of time?

There is an old story about Picasso. He was sitting on a park bench when he was approached by a woman who asked him to make a portrait of her. He agreed and made the portrait quickly and gave it to her. She was impressed by the portrait but when she asked for the price, she was shocked. “$5000!” she exclaimed, “but it only took you a few minutes to draw this”. “No “replied Picasso, “it took me my entire life.”

Of course if you have already heard this story then you know his reply differs with your source but the lesson remains the same, there is a price for mastery.  Picasso had to invest time into learning how to draw to be able to draw such an impressive portrait in such a short time. But once he had mastered his craft, people never really understood its value.

There is a quote that states “we tend to overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can achieve in a year”. This quote tends to bring out the lack of patience that is shown by people. People want to go to the gym and get results in two weeks, yet it takes about a month for the results to start showing, people want to go to art class and in one month, draw like a pro. Good things take time, be it work, art and even relationships it takes time for this things to actually flourish.

I was at a talk for high school kids the other day and their career mentor was just telling them about the value of school and learning. He told them that the more you stay in school, the more you will earn once you are done. Now given that that may not really apply in this day and age, the idea behind his statement is very powerful and still applies. The more time you invest in doing something, be it writing, art, dancing or singing the better you will be at it at the end of the day. And that, I believe, is the true value of time.

Have a nice day 🙂

Building Strong Habits

When it comes to success in any activity, investing in habits is a great way to getting more done. Think about the last time you thought about brushing your teeth or even washing your face in the Morning when you get up. you probably think that its customary to wash your face immediately you get out of bed but it’s not; you got so used to doing it, you think its procedure.

The great thing about habits is that they need less thought to get things done. Thinking about doing things or making decisions leads to decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is the state of mind where you’re so tired from thinking all day, you can’t think about anything else. For most people, decision fatigue is experienced in the evening after a long day of work.

With habits however, the situation is different. Since with habits you need to think less, it means that at the end of the day you will have done a lot of work and will still be in a position to get some more work done. But habits are not just about what we do on a daily basis but also how we can add new activities into our day. The less we think about an activity, the easier it will be to do.

The thing that’s challenging, however, is forming a habit. It’s easier said than done. It’s easy to want to go to the gym but harder to actually go. It’s easier to want to read but harder to actually take a book and read. One of the reasons this may happen has to do with how we start. Imagine  going to the gym and starting with the heaviest weights, or reading three chapters of a book for the very first time. Remember, first impressions matter, and if you perceive a new activity as hard the first time you do it, it will be harder for you to do the same thing next time.

A better way to go at it is to first start small. If you want to go for a marathon, start with a few laps on a field, for a book start with one chapter. Don’t do too much of the activity the first time so that you may have energy it for later. Make it fun and enjoyable and  get creative by finding different ways of doing the same thing. Finally try as much as possible to enjoy the process instead of focusing on the end  result. For example, why do we brush our teeth? For better dental health. But dental health is not a static state, it’s a continuous process.  So in the same way, when forming a habit, don’t be motivated by an end result, enjoy the process and learn from it. Remember, the more you do something  the better you will get. While reading fiction may not help you get certified or make any money, it will help keep your mind sharp which will help you study more effectively when the time comes.

Building habits is a great way to ensure you are constantly growing  and although the building process may be hard in the beginning, when you get through it, there will be more for you to reap from the whole process.

Have a good day 🙂

The ART of showing up

Imagine you had a goal in mind, be it read more books or make more friends or even start a company, your next step would be to educate yourself on these things. So you go online and you find articles, and blogs and videos on the subject matter and you absorb all you can. When you feel you’ve had enough to get you started, you pick up your first book and start reading. Halfway through, or on day two, you realize something feels off. It doesn’t feel as great as it did when you started off. It has its challenges and it’s no longer stimulating. Before long, you quit and look for another goal just to find the same pattern repeating itself.

This happened to me a while back when I was trying to get fit. I used to go to the field and take a few laps every day. But some days I would wake up and realize I didn’t feel like it and slowly as I accepted this feeling, I stopped going for my jogs. I was lost there for a while, wondering why I hadn’t gone through with the practice regimen I had developed until later I met a guy who changed my whole perspective on the matter.

For story purposes let’s call him John. John is training for the Olympics and every evening he is on the field training. Since he was the most consistent guy I knew, I decided to join him in his workout. I followed him for a week and never was he off in his workout. On some days I would say I didn’t feel like it and even when he didn’t feel like it, he still did the workout. Needless to say I left but I learned something from him that day, the art of showing up.

The art of showing up is an art designed to help people get more consistent with what they do on a daily basis. With most leisure activities, people  choose to do them because they feel great, stimulating, or thrilling. But when that thrill wears off , people tend to leave the activities and look for new ones. A good example is working out, it feels good when you start but as time goes by, the great feeling you get starts to dwindle and all you have are aching limbs the next morning. In such a case, one would choose to stop working out and find something else to do. If this happens to you often, the art of showing up gives a better long lasting solution to the matter.

The basic idea is first, ignore how you feel. In my workout example, I mention that at one point I didn’t FEEL like it. Feelings tend to mislead people especially where long term goals are concerned. We tend to relate how we feel with the result. For example, if I feel great about working out, I will work out better. The reality, however, is the opposite.  Working out with time tends to give its benefits after the workout is done and not during the workout as some would expect. Also at the end of the workout, you will have a feeling of accomplishment when you do all the assigned sets. So instead of going with your feelings, just go to the gym and do what you had planned for the day and see what happens.

With the first point in mind, the second is just as important. Have a plan. I recall days when I had no plan for my day and what would happen is that I would wake up and get lost in my day. You do not need a job or some big career to have a plan for your day. A plan gives the day direction so without one, you could end up being bored which leads some bad habits. With a plan, you don’t have to really rely on your feelings, you just have to do what needs to be done, and you’ll be okay. A great way to do this is create a time table.

The third and final point is show up. If you have a workout, go to the gym and do some reps. You want to read more books, read a book for an hour every day. You want to build a company, show up for work every day and look for clients. The idea is be there and do something whether it feels great or not, whether it’s great or not. If you want to be a better writer, write an article a day, whether it’s a great article or just basic, at least you’ll have something. a

The art of showing up encourages people to show up and be present in their day and their lives. Showing up ensures consistency and with time, you can be sure of growth which means getting better at your craft. I’ll finish off with a quote from James clear that says “Don’t worry about the results until you’ve mastered the art of showing up.”

Thank you for stopping by. Have a productive day ahead 🙂

 

Sleep- The CORNERSTONE of SUCCESS

When I think about the word cornerstone, I think of the song cornerstone by hill song. The song says that Christ alone is the cornerstone and in him, the weak are made strong and through the storm He is Lord. Another name for cornerstone is foundation or core. It is something that is depended on for support and stability.

Sleep is our way of  recharging after a long day. A good nights sleep provides energy for the brain and the body, it supports daytime performance and it is essential for growth and development. Without sleep, every other tip on success can only get you so far. Allow me to illustrate this with a story.

A wood cutter would go to the forest everyday looking for trees. He would get there early in the morning and get to work. As he worked through the day, he realized that in the morning he would cut down more trees but as time progressed the number of trees he could cut would reduce. He tried increasing his effort and put more strength on the swing of the axe, but that only made a small change and exhausted him in the process.

He decides to go to a wise man with his problem, and after he explains, the wise man asks him, “how often do you sharpen your axe?” He replies, “I do it every morning.”. The wise man explains that this was his problem. Working all day with the same axe made it blunt and this is why he cut down many trees in the morning but could only get a few in the evening. “If you want to get more trees as you work,” the wise man said, “you need to consistently sharpen your axe.”

Sharpening of the axe in the above story can be seen as the cornerstone of this mans success at wood cutting. The number of trees the wood cutter could cut down depended on how sharp his axe was at the time. The sharper the axe, the more trees he could get and vice versa.

Sleep works in a similar way as sharpening the axe. The axe in this case means our minds. Our minds, like the axe need to be sharpened consistently to ensure more productivity and how do we sharpen our minds? By sleeping and relaxing and ensuring we are our best for better productivity and success at whatever we do.

Thank you for stopping by and have a great day :).

 

 

 

Why MOTIVATION is Overrated

It is a rainy Sunday afternoon and I am seated facing my laptop ready to write down a blog post. I feel frustrated because I do not have the motivation to do it. I have the topic written down, but I’m short of ideas. I wait patiently, hoping that my mind will come up with something but from past experience, I know this plan will not work out.

When I say motivation is overrated, the scenario above helps illustrate my point. By overrated, I mean that we tend to rely so much on motivation that we believe it is an essential for getting things done. I personally have waited on motivation on several occasions and even when it came, it never lasted that long. I eventually gave in and looked for something else to do.

Motivation is the general desire of someone to want to do something. It is the why that gets us working on everything we do. For example, my motivation for writing a blog is it gives me an avenue for me to share some of my thoughts. I also hope to get better and be able to publish more articles with time. That is my motivation, my reason. Having a reason behind what we do is a great thing, but in some instances, it is never enough.

Think about a big project or task like writing a report. If you write the report, you will get paid but at the same time writing the report can be a daunting task. You decide to do the report, thinking about the money that comes after. Half way through you realize that you want a break and a few minutes later, you postpone the task to do at a later time.

You see what happened is that you started doing the task with money as your goal without realizing that the task of writing a report may not be as easy. So you take a break hoping to get some motivation to continue,  and if you get it, you finish up the job. When you don’t, however,  you do not feel motivated anymore and at this point you will  switch to something else  and completely leave the first task.

I was in a class last week and something the lecturer said got to me. He was talking about motivation and how misunderstood it can be sometimes. He gave an example of a student waking up on a Saturday Morning with laundry to do. First, they  feel lazy and want to go back to sleep, but because of the work load they decide to get the job done. So they wash the first cloth, then the second ,then the third and by the time they are halfway , they have enough momentum to finish the whole batch. After their done, they think,” hey, I can wash the house too”.

As you can see, they started off with no motivation but by doing the work, they got motivated to even clean up the house which was not in their original plan. This example showed me another way to get more done on a daily basis. Instead of waiting on the willingness to do something try to build momentum. Move from a state of doing nothing and get yourself moving. With time, you will get momentum to finish the task at hand and have more to work on the other things in your life.

This is why I find motivation to be overrated, because people tend to rely on it waiting for it to come up yet they can create it by just getting busy. I hope this article gave you a few tips that you may have needed and I also hope it has given you a new look at motivation. If you do not have it, you can always get yourself moving and create it in the process. Get moving on your daily tasks and gain enough momentum to not only reach your goals but to also accomplish your dreams. Have a great day :).