The Compound Effect Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The Compound Effect will show you why big, abrupt changes rarely work and how you can change your life over time with the power of small, daily steps, a routine that builds momentum and the courage to break through your limits when you reach them.

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The Compound Effect is right up my alley. You know the whole tortoise vs. the hare thing? I’m a tortoise. And so is Darren Hardy. Starting his first entrepreneurial venture at age 18 with no experience, no connections and no clue what to do, he eventually found himself in the self-improvement industry, bumping into Jim Rohn and ended up working with and getting mentored by him.

In 2007, he took over Success magazine and grew it into a monthly publication that reaches over 500,000 people. After almost 10 years of heading the magazine, Darren’s moved on, but he still credits 99% of his success to hard work. But hard work, like few other things, compounds.

In The Compound Effect, Darren explains how, instead of making big bets and dramatic changes, he turned his goals into daily habits he could follow – and then waited for the compounding effect to kick in.

Here’s how you can do the same, based on 3 lessons from the book:

  1. Turn your life goals into daily habits.
  2. Come up with a routine and consistently show up to build momentum.
  3. When you hit a ceiling, use your momentum to push through, even if you have to cheat a little at first.

Let’s build success like investors build their portfolio, by using the compound effect!

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Lesson 1: When you come up with a new life goal, immediately turn it into a daily habit.

We’ve all been there. You have an insightful, glorious moment, in which you decide you’ll “put your foot down” and make a change, right now. But then the morning comes and your idea to run 10k every day doesn’t seem so good any longer.

Change is always a function of time and with human behavior, it’s a linear one. If you don’t put a lot of time into a change you want to make, it won’t stick. But you can’t just work out 40 hours a week, so what should you do?

Simple: The moment you come up with a new life goal, instantly turn it into a tiny, daily habit you can practice.

For example, if you want to eat healthy, switch your after-lunch-Snickers for an apple. If you want to become a writer, start writing 250 words a day. And if you finally want to meet someone to fall in love with, send a message to one person every day.

I’m not saying that finding the right habit is easy. It’ll take some experimentation, but once you find something you can manage on a daily basis, that’s when it gets interesting…

Lesson 2: Create a routine which you can stick to, so you won’t lose your momentum.

…because only when you can do your habit consistently can you make it part of the routine you need to increase your momentum.

Momentum is a principle from physics, and the reason a snowball, which rolls down a hill, keeps getting bigger and bigger. As it gets faster, it picks up more snow, which makes it bigger, which in turn makes it faster. This kind of self-reinforcing cycle also applies to human behavior.

The more good habits you accumulate, the more good decisions you’ll make, until it becomes really easy to choose what’s right. Chances are, you’ll feel unstoppable at some point, because you’ve got the Big Mo (big momentum) on your side.

Because of the way momentum works, the hardest part is to get it going in the first place. That’s why initially, you should focus on creating a routine you can consistently show up for – even if you’re not making it all the way through.

For example, going to the gym three times a week for three weeks in a row, even if you cut your workout short the first two times, is a lot better than trying to go five times a week and missing half of your sessions altogether.

Keep showing up until your habit clicks into a routine.

Lesson 3: Use your momentum to push through limits as you hit them, even if you have to trick yourself at first.

The goal of having a good routine going is that you’ll have momentum when you need it the most: the first time you hit a limit.

At some point, you’ll stop losing weight, you won’t be able to run faster, or your blog posts won’t get any better. That’s when you can capitalize on all the power you’ve built up so far and use it to just smash through such a metaphorical wall – even if it means bending the truth a bit.

For example, when Arnold Schwarzenegger hit weight lifting limits, he’d lean back a bit to activate more muscle groups, get some support and add five to six reps to his sets. “Cheats” like these aren’t shortcuts – they’re detours.

In the case of losing weight, you could just have water for dinner for a few days, for running pick a route that’s less steep than usual and for writing write an extra page that’s about a different topic.

Finding tweaks like these to make your momentum work for you will allow you to push past your limits faster, thus create even more momentum and make the compound effect stronger.

The Compound Effect Review

The Compound Effect pretty much sums up the momentum framework we use to coach on Set a goal, break it down, monitor daily habits, build momentum, level up. Simple? Yes. Basic? Yes. But efficient as ever? Hell yeah! Especially good books for beginners in personal development.

Who would I recommend The Compound Effect summary to?

The 22 year old, whose New Year’s resolution to quit smoking failed this year, the 43 year old tech manager, who’s trying to get his gym habit back up again, but keeps missing his workouts, and anyone who’s currently figuring out how to level up one of their habits.

Last Updated on August 4, 2022

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Niklas Göke

Niklas Göke is an author and writer whose work has attracted tens of millions of readers to date. He is also the founder and CEO of Four Minute Books, a collection of over 1,000 free book summaries teaching readers 3 valuable lessons in just 4 minutes each. Born and raised in Germany, Nik also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He lives in Munich and enjoys a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading — or writing — the next book — or book summary, of course!