What makes Warren Buffet the most successful investor of all time, more than anything else, is his longevity. He has been investing successfully for over 75 years, leading to explosive financial success. There is no other word that can better illustrate the compound effect than an explosion.
Let’s take an explosion we are probably all familiar with as an example: beer tapping. For those who may not be familiar with the phenomenon, beer tapping is when someone taps the top of a beer with the bottom of another, which leads to an explosion of foam from the bottom beer.
Beer tapping illustrates the compound effect shrunk down to a period our attention span can see, a short period of nothing and then boom. There are some fun physics to explain the stages of beer tapping.
Minor effects build on each other until the reaction becomes visible. Just like the explosive financial growth the Oracle of Omaha has seen throughout his long life, this process starts slow. Then it proceeds with rapid growth due to the compound effect.
Compounding longevity habits
Longevity habits are those that have a significant influence on the quality of your life. These habits, whether good or bad, will eventually dictate your quality of life as they determine how sustainable your life is.
When planning for a long life, it is crucial to ensure that your habits are sustainable so that their compounding effect is positive as they start to compound. Because the effect is initially imperceptibly small, it is easy to disregard how habits’ will impact your longevity.
However, in time you will see how small habits, good and bad, determine your quality of life. Let’s use regular exercise as an example. A daily 30-minute walk or bike ride is enough to get your weekly minimum exercise of 150 minutes.
The bright path
For those that make this walk a habit, it will make them more health conscious and likely spread to other facets of their lives. They may also start including a muscular workout in their weekly schedule or eat healthier meals.
As they make these changes to their lives, they will feel better and have more energy to do more. As they get more energy and do more, they will see positive changes in their bodies, perpetuating the feedback loop of motivation and increasing their chances of sticking to a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle will become a part of their identity, and they will start to crave it when they wander from their healthy path.
The Dark path
Now let’s imagine that instead of going for a 30-minute walk a day, our hypothetical person decided to watch television to relax after a hard day. There is nothing wrong with relaxing for thirty minutes a day; if anything, it is good for you to unwind.
However, replacing your minimum exercise with television will have dire consequences. As time goes on, your thirty minutes will likely expand to a more extended period. This extra time in front of the TV will make you hungry before you start making dinner.
To fight this hunger, you will start to snack before dinner, and your diners will get simpler as you want to spend more time on the couch. These unhealthy meals will drain your energy and make you less motivated to accomplish anything in your evenings. Eventually, this sedentary lifestyle will lead to health complications that are bad for your longevity.
Start with mindfulness
Becoming mindful of your habits will help you get into the feedback loop of motivation illustrated by taking the bright path rather than degrading into the fallacy of consumerism shown by the dark one.
The power of habits comes from their automaticity; when you turn something constructive into a routine, you automate your self-development. Compounding habits boost their impact as their benefits start to accumulate. To compound a habit, you must be able to answer the following three questions:
- Why does it matter?
- How can you plan it?
- What will happen?
Think of your long-term goals and ask yourself these questions to discover the small steps you can start taking today that will have a large impact tomorrow.
Why does it matter?
Start with why. Why will that activity matter in your life? Ask yourself the long-term consequences of doing or not doing that habit. You need to decide what you want to accomplish.
My goal is to speak the Czech language fluently. I will be marrying into a Czech family that does not speak English, so I have two options: learn Czech or complain that they don’t speak English. Complaining about the lack of English would be the easy solution, but it would get me nowhere as it is outside my realm of effect.
Meanwhile, my ability to speak Czech is within my control, so I long ago decided it would be the better path. Those unfamiliar with learning buckets of languages may not know this, but it is difficult and often frustrating to learn a foreign language.
Nonetheless, as I have a solid reason to learn it, I have maintained a slow and steady course to fluency. I am still far from sounding like a native, but I can have a simple conversation, which is still an accomplishment for me.
What will your accomplishment be? Find a goal you have a fundamental reason to accomplish and start working towards it today. It takes time to build an empire, but for every brick you place, you get closer to having it. To compound the empire idea, for every house you finish, you have a new family available to help you build it, quickening the process.
How can you plan it?
To path to success is to be present in the process. A great way to develop a process-driven mindset is through meditation. Meditation can help us be more spiritual, relaxed, and productive. All these side effects happen because the process of meditating is difficult.
Meditating is beneficial because it is hard, not despite it. It teaches you to be present; it teaches you to focus on the process. Alternatively, suppose you are not into the whole meditation thing. In that case, you can also spice up your constructive habits to make them more attractive.
New habits are built by becoming more attractive, accessible and rewarding than the old ones. The easiest way to make something more attractive is by bundling it with things you already enjoy. If your goal is to start going to the gym, you can get started by rewarding yourself with a treat upon completion or when you reach milestones.
As you pass more milestones, you will start to see results which will replace the need for a treat as your pride grows in how much you have achieved. There you go, building momentum again like Newton’s first law: “objects in motion stay in motion.”
What will happen?
You have your goal, that shiny light at the end of the tunnel. It has guided you this far, and now you feel great. Your habits have started to compound, and now you feel exponentially better than when you began. What happens next?
If you are not careful, you might get a success hangover, plateau, then come crashing back down just as fast as you climbed up. As many books point out, it is easy to get rich; it is much harder to stay rich.
Whatever your goal, once you have designed your path to get there, forget about the destination. When you forget the purpose and focus on the process, you allow space for new goals to come into your life.
As you get closer to completing a task or developing a skill, you will see another goal on the horizon. Like a hike up a mountain with endless false peaks, the more you climb, the better the view and the more reason you have to keep moving forward.
The most important takeaway from the psychology of money is to be patient; this can also be applied to longevity. Results only come after a habit has had time to compound with others.
After 900 days of studying Czech, my speaking abilities still need to improve. Still, I persist with the knowledge that I will someday speak to my children in that language. Small sustainable habits lead to significant change when kept for a long time.
Significant lifestyle alterations are unsustainable and cause you to burn out before lasting change can be achieved. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not get his Conan the Barbarian arms after a single day at the gym; it took thousands of repetitions.
Put in the repetitions, and you will get the results; it is as simple as that. For help designing your plan, contact me to arrange a coaching session. For a free induction session, subscribe to my newsletter below, and we can get started discussing what you want to achieve.
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