Can you feel it? Change is in the air, another year has passed and new opportunities are on the horizon. Maybe this year you’ll stick to your New Year’s resolutions (and finally go to the gym), or maybe you won’t and that is fine as well. Whatever you do, I hope you do something valuable in 2018.

Valuable is not necessarily a synonym for large, expansive or big; it could be something small, local and close. And actually the latter might just work out better.

Studies have shown that those who work incrementally (step by step) achieve more in the long run as their efforts compound over time. Compounding encompasses the process of breaking down massive projects, and improving upon, or working on them day by day. By breaking down big projects into small tasks that are much easier to complete, you are more likely to stick with the plan. This reinforces the possibility of you actually completing your project, and in this process you are creating a new positive habit.

The compounding effect is not new, it is something people have been using for years and two great resources on this subject I have come across recently, are the books ‘The Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson and ‘The Compound Effect’ by Darren Hardy. (Hint: both could be great Christmas presents!)

If we just shortly come back to our example resolution, going to the gym; many people do have the intention to regularly work out each ‘January’, but end up quitting before the month is over. The main reason is that they set too high goals, go too often, and work out for too long initially. This all becomes too much very quickly, and the easiest thing to do is stop. If on the other hand, one would slowly built up the frequency and length of gym sessions, there would be a much higher chance of cementing the habit. In ‘The Slight Edge’, Olson suggests to take on improvements of no more than 1% a day. Compounded over a year (365 days) this will result in a gigantic improvement of 365%!

So don’t be too hard on yourself when setting these New Year’s resolutions, and remember, step by step is the way to achieve your goals in 2018.


*First Published in The Thetford and Brandon Times