How to transform your life bit by bit with The Compound Effect

How to get maximum results for minimum effort with the 6 principles of the compound effect from the book “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy.

Principle 1: Discipline

A high level of self-discipline is one of the key elements of the compound effect.

Small, smart actions or changes + consistency + time make a radical difference.

The domino effect is part of the compound effect.

The choices we make in one area, such as if we don’t have a healthy diet, affect other areas of our lives. In particular, unhealthy food brings on lethargy, which means that we have less energy and, therefore, make less effort with things. This will have a negative effect on all other things in life.

The difficulty, for lots of people, with the compound effect, is that it requires consistent effort, over a long period of time, in a controlled and steady manner, before the results can be achieved.

It means that you have to let go of the “microwave attitude” where you want to get everything immediately. The compound effect is an inescapable reality which is always on the go. We can either make it work for us or ignore it and suffer the negative results.

Principle 2: Choices

We all come into this world the same way: naked, scared and ignorant. The life we lead after that is the result of the choices we make.

So how do we learn to become conscious of our actions and make choices to improve our life?

First of all, we must be aware that it is the small things in life that cause the most damage, those things that we do without thought.

For example: eat when and as we have been programmed to do.

We must learn to be grateful and not blame others.

If you accept 100% responsibility for everything that happens to you in life, the power is in your hands and it is up to you to change the situation.

The difference between rich, happy and healthy versus poor, depressed and unhealthy only comes from the choices you have made throughout your life.

Here is the author’s comprehensive equation to make sure that you’re lucky.

Luck is: Preparation (personal development) + Attitude (beliefs, mindset) + Opportunity (something positive that happens to be there) + Action (grab hold of that opportunity).

Then choose an aspect of your life that you want to change and write down each action related to it that you would like to improve.

For example: if your aim was to lose some weight, keep a food diary and write down a list of everything you eat each day,

If you can put this system into practice, you become more aware of the small things you do well and those that you don’t do so well.

In fact, you can adjust things ever so slightly on your own. If you do this consistently, you will eventually see extraordinary results.

For example, the difference in golf between the #1 player in the world and the #10 player is 2.7% in terms of scores but is 5 times greater in terms of prize money, $10 million versus $2 million, for example.

In order to reap the benefits of the compound effect, you need to take your first steps immediately to put these small changes in place because the first move always sounds easier than it actually is.

Just aim to improve by 1/10th of 1% every day, which gives a compound effect of 26% over a year.

And bear in mind that if you improve by 1% per day, after 72 days, you are twice as good.

Principle 3: Habits

We are all creatures of habit and most people are not in control of their lives as they allow their habits and routines to take control.

Some subconscious habits and routines certainly have their positive side.

For example: you make yourself breakfast, you brush your teeth, you go to work…

The fundamental difference between those who are most successful in life and those who are not is linked to daily routines based on good habits.

With practice and repetition, all habits, good or bad, become automatic over time. So it’s up to us to make a conscious decision to change the habits that are bad for us and to adopt those that are good for us.

The first step is to learn how to get out of the trap of instant pleasure and immediate gratification.

Indeed, if we ate a Big Mac and then suffered a cardiac arrest, we would certainly not eat a second one.

That’s why it’s so hard to escape the trap of instant gratification, because the immediate pleasure we derive from it far outweighs the conscious thoughts that we have in our heads about the long-term consequences of these bad habits.

Willpower alone is not sufficient to break these bad habits. What works is to use the power of why. Connect your choices to your desires and dreams.

If you want to adopt new habits, you need to identify a fantastically powerful reason that will ignite your passion and feed your persistence in the long run.

To identify and discover what this is, to access the power of why, you need to understand what your core values are.

People are motivated either by something they want or by something they no longer want.

Love and hate are powerful motivators. You need to identify what makes you tick and link it to one emotion or another.

For example: on hate, you may realize that you hate injustice, that you hate disease…

Then, you must clearly define your objectives so that the compound effect works in your favor to help you achieve them.

When you identify with your goals, it works because it gives your mind a new focus, changes your perception of your environment and allows you to identify all the opportunities that are out there in relation to those goals.

Once you have set these goals, the question is not what you need to do to achieve them, it is who you need to become, how you need to change yourself.

Therefore, you must identify and list all the habits that hold you back from the achievement of your goals, as well as those that would allow you to achieve them.

Your life can be summed up by this formula:

Choices (your decisions) + Attitude (your actions) + Habits (your repeated actions) + Cumulative (over time) = your goal.

And in order to eliminate your bad habits, you must:

1. Identify the triggers for each of these habits

2. Sort out your lifestyle

If you have an addiction to alcohol, for example, you should systematically remove all forms of alcohol from your home.

3. Replace these habits with ones that are not so harmful

If you have a sweet tooth, eat some dark chocolate for your dessert rather than a bowl of ice cream.

4. Make gradual changes, take small steps

5. Or change them dramatically

We are all wired in a different way and some people will prefer this type of approach.

6. Learn to control your “vices” to ensure that you are always in control.

If you drink coffee every day, as an example, the author suggests that you try to not drink any for 30 consecutive days to ascertain if you are able to function without this vice.

Every 3 months, choose a new vice and abstain from it for 30 days.

In order to implement your new good habits, you have to:

1. Set up your environment to help you succeed.

If you join a gym that’s 50 km from your home or work, you will never go.

2. Think addition, not subtraction.

Rather than tell yourself, “if you’re on a diet, I can’t eat a hamburger,” you need to repeat, “I can eat good steamed vegetables with fresh figs”.

3. Let it be known what your goals are.

Let your friends, co-workers, and family know about the new habits you want to try to implement within your life so that they will keep you on track and help you to maintain your discipline.

4. Find someone who shares the same goal.

It’s always more fun and worthwhile when there are two or more people.

5. Set up a challenge based on your new lifestyle with your friends, colleagues…

Incidentally, I invite you to have a look at a wonderful interview I conducted with Kate Strong. At the age of 32, Kate decided that she wanted to take part in a triathlon, and 14 months later, 14 months after her very first one, she became world champion and she shares all the techniques she used, which includes the fact that she did exactly what is described: she organized a challenge based on her new lifestyle with her friends and colleagues.

6. Then you celebrate.

That is, you’ll be able to indulge in small pleasures to enjoy the fruits of all your hard work to develop these new habits.

Everybody finds change difficult. That’s why most people don’t do it.

Simultaneously, it is also gives you a sense of pleasure because you know that not many people will do it, very few ordinary people, and you want to be one of the extraordinary people.

So, no matter how hard it is, do it and you will experience the magic that the compound effect enables you to feel.

And last but not least, show some patience as those bad habits took years to be formed and the associated brain patterns connected with them are strong.

So the formation of a new lifestyle will take time, but be patient and give yourself a break. Even if you fall off the bike, pick yourself up and persevere. You will reap the rewards.

Principle 4: Momentum

Momentum is everyone’s friend, whether it’s Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk…

The fact is that the adaptation and change of lifestyle is certainly not easy, because at the start you are obliged to take things in small steps and then, one by one, you need to continue to implement the changes you’ve made.

Progress is slow. But once these small cumulative habits have enabled us to create a new habit, the momentum is there to help us. Success and results become exponential.

This also explains why successful people tend to be even more successful, rich people tend to get richer… Conversely, this momentum can work against us if we are on a path littered with negative habits.

What is the secret formula to turn momentum into your friend?

  1. Make choices based on your goals and core values
  2. Develop positive attitudes to make those choices a reality
  3. Continue with these actions over a long period of time to develop new habits
  4. Implement these daily routines and rhythms in a disciplined way
  5. Be consistent over an extended timeframe

Many positive resolutions fail because we don’t have a system in place to implement them.

You need to incorporate your new attitudes and actions into your daily, monthly, yearly routines so that they produce a positive change.

A routine is an action that we put into practice every day without any excuse, whether we want to or not, until it becomes ingrained in our subconscious, such as when you brush your teeth or put on your seatbelt.

In order to achieve new goals and develop new habits, you must also create new routines in line with your goals.

It’s probably best to try to put routines in place in the morning and at bedtime, because in between, unexpected situations may arise that mean you won’t be able to carry out your new routines in the course of the rest of the day, but once you’ve defined your routines, you should perform them on a daily basis with no deviation.

Should you feel that one of these new routines no longer gives you as much energy as it used to, do not hesitate to change and adapt it.

Then form some sort of set rhythm to use in the short, medium and long term for some of these routines. Use a calendar with a list of your routines so that you can check if you have managed to carry them all out.

By the way, I strongly recommend the Habitica software. Geeks will especially appreciate this software, but so will others, as it kind of creates a game out of your daily routines. You will gain points, go up in levels, acquire new items, like in a video game, but this will be done when you actually achieve things in your real life.

In my case, it was this that I found to be a real help for me to implement the things I needed to do on a daily basis, such as meditation, foreign language practice, and so on…

However, be sure not to expect too much of yourself.

If you come up with a routine that means that you have to exercise for 2 hours a day 5 times a week when, initially, you don’t take part in any kind of physical exercise, this will be guaranteed to fail.

Because if you attempt too much at first, your routine will eventually break down and you will completely abandon it.

The most important thing is consistency, because if you start and stop and then start again, it will require a lot of energy and will drive you farther and farther away from your goals.

Once you have started, don’t stop for anything, just like the tortoise who, with time and momentum, arrives before the hare.

Principle 5: Influences

Remember that your choices, attitudes and habits are all shaped by very powerful external forces.

Most people are not aware of the subtle power of these forces.

If you wish to maintain your positive journey towards your goals, you must appreciate and master these forces so that they help you along your path to success rather than derail you from it.

We are all influenced by three main sources of power:

  1. Internal forces, the things you feed your mind with
  2. Associations, the people you spend your time with
  3. Your environment

If you want your brain to function at its peak, you must be extremely mindful of what goes into it. This is made more difficult by the fact that most of the information the brain absorbs is subconscious.

The purpose of our brain is not to make us happy, its only objective is our survival.

In fact, it is constantly in search of any sign of deprivation and/or attack. For example, when we hear bad news on TV or radio, our brain will navigate through this sea of negativity, fear and worry all day and night.

So we must be disciplined and proactive about the kind of information we wish to take in.

To accomplish this, you have to limit your exposure to the media quite considerably and increase your exposure to more positive, inspirational information that helps you develop.

Think about who you spend most of your time with because it’s those people who shape the conversations that command your attention, as well as the attitudes and opinions you are exposed to on a regular and consistent basis. Social psychology research by David McClelland of Harvard has demonstrated that your peer group influences up to 95% of the successes and failures in your life.

Basically, you are made up of a mixture of the five people that you spend the most time with.

Ask yourself: who are they? Are they people who have a positive or negative influence on you?

Once you have answered these questions, you must then place these people in the following boxes:

1. Disassociation

Work out those people in your circle who refuse to develop and to live life with a positive attitude, those who drag you down, and then resolve to disassociate yourself from them, or at least to cut down on the time that you spend with them as much as possible.

2. Limited association

These are the people you can happily spend 3 hours with but not 3 days; or even 3 minutes but not 3 hours.

Make sure you don’t spend 3 hours with your 3 minute friends or you may subconsciously pick up negative influences.

3. Increased Association

You should also identify those who already embody the positive habits you would like to develop; and then spend as much time as possible with them.

Another option to reinforce the positive influences in your life is to find a partner; who is as motivated as you are to learn and take on similar changes in their life.

If you are able to find a mentor who can provide you with advice; and guidance it may be helpful for you to achieve your goals sooner; or even form a kind of advisory board, with people that you are close to; who have been successful in life in relation to what you want to achieve.

With regards to how much your environment influences you; focus on the elimination of any disorder that exists in your lifestyle; both externally and internally, i.e. your psychological disorder.

Create an atmosphere and lifestyle that will be conducive to your goals; and remember that you will get what you think you deserve in life.

Principle 6: Acceleration

In this section, we examine those moments of truth that we all face;and how the compound effect can help us get through the challenges and move on to major successes.

When you encounter these situations, where your journey seems all the more insurmountable; remind yourself that everyone else committed to that same journey is faced with the same challenge; and if you are persistent, you will outperform them.

It is in this type of situation that you will make the most progress.

When conditions are ideal and things are easy; when there are no distractions or temptations; you will perform at your best and the path to success will be easily achieved.

When things get tough, that’s when you should be happy; because it gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your new personality; to move away from your old self and towards your future one. With a disciplined implementation of the new habits that you have chosen to adopt; it will undoubtedly result in the compound effect enable you to accomplish your goals.

But if you want to speed up your results, exceed the limits that you have set your sights on.

Be your own competition, exceed what is required and if you surprise yourself, you will be sure to impress others.

If you do exactly the same as everyone else; you will end up with the same outcome as they all get.

Surprise people. Be bold.

One of the methods to do this is to know in advance what is expected or required; and to go above and beyond; even if, when you first encounter it, the scenario seems to be insignificant.

For example, you’re a guest and the way you dress is pretty casual; make an effort and wear clothes that are a bit smarter than people expect to see on you.

The 6 principles of The Compound Effect:

  1. Discipline
  2. Choices
  3. Habits
  4. Momentum
  5. Influences
  6. Acceleration

To learn more, I invite you to watch my video on this subject, but the best thing would be to take a look at my review of this book ‘The Compound Effect‘.


  • The book “The Compound Effect” on Amazon
  • Video: How Kate Strong became a world triathlon CHAMPION in 14 months
  • Video: How to turn your life into a video game to get super motivated

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