The Compound Effect


Today you are going to learn the principle that many successful individuals use to reap massive results. This is done by taking small, insignificant actions over time and it is known as the compound effect.

Let’s say your goal is to lose 10 lbs by the summer because you want to look good for your high school reunion. I’m a huge coffee drinker and drink at least 2 cups a day, one of them being a white chocolate mocha (which averages around 420 calories). One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so 10 lbs of fat is 35,000 calories (3,500 x 10). If you removed only one of those daily cups of coffee, it would take you 83.3 days to lose 10 pounds (assuming the rest of your diet did not change (35,000 / 420 = 83.3 days)).

Although simply removing a cup of coffee may be easy to do, it’s also easy not to do. In order for the compound effect to work, you need to take 100 percent responsibility for everything that happens to you. Each of the big successes you see is the combination of all of the little successes. If you want to improve your life and your situation, you need to make the choice everyday to achieve small wins.

Consistency is key. If you’ve lost a week of taking action, don’t get discouraged and quit. It’s easy to lose momentum once you’ve hit a roadblock. Persevere and keep moving forward. You will see significant results as time rolls by.

The compound effect can also affect you negatively.

Do you watch Netflix? It’s easy to play your favorite episode and lose 30 minutes or an hour of productivity. But what usually happens after you complete the first episode? You watch the next episode and another, and so on and so forth. Have you heard the term “binge watching”? That’s binge watching at its best. Pretty soon that 30 minutes becomes 5 hours, and you wonder where the time went. You may know what happens to that character in the Netflix series, but how does that help you in reaching your goals?

The first step toward change is awareness. Be mindful of where you spend your time or it will negatively affect your productivity.

This is why scheduling and blocking out times is important. Block out time in the morning for self-development, for exercise, answering emails, etc. If it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done.

In conclusion, the compound effect can either make you or break you. It’s not the big choices, but the ones that you think don’t matter as much that take you off course. Once you are aware and conscious about the choices you make, you will start to realize that the small decisions you make really do change things and create dramatic results.

Rommel Cabal


Rommel is an expert at being LIT. He believes that anyone can achieve mastery using the principles of Learning, Implementing, and Teaching. While obtaining his degree in Electrical Engineering at SDSU, he found his passion in entrepreneurship, starting his first company making apps. He went on to start his own podcast, called Startup Life Hacks, where he interviews startup founders and entrepreneurs around San Diego.

Former VP of Operations of the Entrepreneur Society, the largest student organization in San Diego State University. Current Director of the Young Entrepreneur Society, a nonprofit that teaches high school students how to be leaders and start small businesses. His goal is to empower and teach people to focus on the skills that they already have, and adapt them in a different way to start businesses of their own.