Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Does the Compound Effect work?

You know what it's like.  You find yourself looking at yourself in the mirror, thinking you're too fat/skinny/weak etc. and have the bizarre idea of going to the gym.  Then, when you get there, you find that you can manage say, 5kg weights and stood next to you, adoring themselves in the mirror, are these huge, good-looking muscle-bound guys lifting ten times the weight you are with their nut sack.

"Sod this", you think, as you slowly slip away and out the door, lighting a fag as you get in the car (walking is bad for you, remember?) and sulk all the way home.  Why would I bother spending all of this time and money on something that'll probably never happen?

You may be wondering what the hell I'm talking about, but hear me out.  The above scenario is exactly how I felt about personal development (and still is how I feel about gyms, to an extent).  I understood the concept of the Compound Effect, in that you do little things each day and they work out to big things over an extended period of time.  So why is it that so many people (myself included) find it really difficult to put the Compound Effect into practice?

You wanna read more books, but you don't have time, so you read for 10 minutes per night.  You could easily read 30-50+ books over the course of that year if you did that.  That sounds brilliant!  At the cost of 10 minutes per night, you can read more books in one year than you have in the last 5, or 10.  But you don't do it.  Why?  Why would you not commit 10 minutes of your day to do something that will benefit you?

You wanna get fit, but you hate gyms, so you get yourself some dumbells or an exercise machine of some sort, and say "I'm going to get fit!"  Then a couple of months later, you stare at said exercise equipment as it sits there with a blanket of dust and you wonder why you wasted your money.  10 minutes a day of exercise isn't much, right?  Especially if you can do it at home while no one is looking.  You do it for a couple of days, then you just stop.  Why?

You want to take up a hobby, so you get whatever it is that corresponds with that hobby, and you give 10 minutes each day to enjoy your hobby, get better at it, etc.  You do this for a week, then you stop it.  Why?  Why?  Why?  WHY?  WHY?!

I honestly don't know why I personally do all of these things.  It's the lack of commitment to yourself that is the main key, and it is one of the hardest attitudes to obtain.  To have enough self-respect to say you'll do something, and then work at it every time you said you would.  Last week I wrote a list of small, compounding goals that I could achieve on a daily, weekly and/or monthly basis.  I kept that up for 2 days.  2 freakin' days.  My end date to reflect was a year from the point when I started.  Not two days after I started.  So, when looking back on it and asking yourself if it was worth it, you can easily tell yourself that it isn't.  I've not read a book, I've not felt stronger from the weights and I don't feel I'm a better drawer (hobby), so the compound effect doesn't work, right?  No.  You're an idiot, John.

So, I've written a new list of compounding goals for myself.  They all have the same benefits of the previous goals, but now I have a "time slot" for them.  For example, on a Monday and Tuesday, I look after my daughter while my wife works, so I know what sort of day I'm going to have.  So for lifting weights, I put that in for when my daughter has a nap.  That's fairly easy.  If I'm at work (or working the business), I can prioritise the business, and when I'm done, I can lift weights.  I've even written myself reminders such as "Don't sit down when you get back" and "Go straight upstairs and start lifting", so if I ever get tempted, I can refer to my own instructions and get on with it.  I will be able to tell you the next time I've posted that I've been doing weights for 10 minutes for x amount of days, and it should correspond with today's post (including today).

I've also written two different lists, for the same thing.  One is a 'Why' list, why I want to achieve this goal and what effect it will have on me when I have done.  The other is a 'How' list, where I've written, in bullet points, what I can do to achieve my goal, from the small to the big.  The goal in question?  To quit smoking.  That's been my biggest vice by far.  I used to smoke weed, and I can honestly tell you that I don't miss it.  I drink on a regular basis (a glass of wine/can of beer a night on average) but I can honestly say I could do without it if need be.  I wouldn't withdraw from either of those two, but cigarettes have a very firm hold over me.

On Sunday, I took my daughter up to Derby for my Grandpa's 93rd birthday.  The day before I wrote a list of what I should do for that day, and ways to keep me busy so I didn't smoke.  I ended up having a cigarette (well, half) before I went, and I had 2 while I was there before leaving.  I had 2 when I got back, too.  So in total I had about 5 cigarettes for that day.  That's not bad compared to a 20 a-day habit, but I wasn't happy with it.  I knew that limiting myself to 3,4,5 etc. cigarettes a day would work in the short-term, but it wouldn't be long until I was back up to 10-15 a day.  So, yesterday (Monday) I decided I wouldn't have a cigarette.  I was a bit grumpy in the morning, but that was partly due to not enough sleep, but otherwise, I didn't suffer nearly as much as I have in previous attempts.  Now I admit, I had one when my wife returned from work, but if she didn't have any on her, I genuinely wouldn't have wanted one.  Today, I got up, I had breakfast, gave Lillie her breakfast - the usual routine - and then I craved.  But it was different.  I didn't feel I needed to have a cigarette or I would eat the cat.  It was more like a small twinge.  It lasted 10-15 minutes or so, then it just went.  That was the only one I had for that morning.  I had a bigger one about an hour ago, but again that only lasted about 20 minutes (it was after food, a big trigger) and then it was gone.  I'm using Champix, prescribed from my Doctor, to help with stopping to smoke.  It stops your brain from receiving the hit of nicotine, basically.

What changed between this attempt and previous ones?  My why and how changed.  Sod will power.  That crap didn't work for anyone.  I'm sure the Champix have played their part, but because I've written down not just why I want to do this, but what I can do to combat the cravings, I have a big ally on my side.  During withdrawal, you do not think straight in the slightest.  Concentration goes out the window, because all you can think about is inhaling that thick, beautiful, creamy smoke and then exhale all of the loveliness out, as your problems and stresses float away.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, withdrawal sucks.  But, by using techniques based on Personal Development, I have personally found this go around much easier.  One of the great things about goal setting is that you look forward to the end result(s), and I really look forward to being able to say "I've not smoked for a week, and I never will again".  

This was sort've a ramble, because I've not posted in a while, it is a bit disjointed, but nevermind!  Thanks for reading.


  1. Three months later, how's it going now? x

  2. I have a new blog. I didn't commit enough to it, but for the amount of time I did, it works, definitely.