Make a Difference by Doing Small Things

Ordinary people who consistently and diligently do simple things will produce extraordinary results David A. Bednar

I exercise 30 minutes a day every day but Sunday. It is my sanity time – regardless of what else is going on in my world. I could never explain adequately to you what that time means to me. I’m pretty sure that I don’t even completely understand myself.

I am LDS. (Most people would better recognize me if I called myself a Mormon.)

So many years ago that I can no longer remember, I made a promise to God that I would read at least one chapter of the Book of Mormon a day. I suspect it was sometime during the early days of my headaches. I have been headache free about 10 years now and I had migraine headaches 24/7 for about 15 years – so the math would say that was a long time ago.

I can remember missing one day of reading the Book of Mormon in all of that time. I remember the day well. I was so sick that I could not lift my head. (I think God understood)

By now, both my exercise and scripture reading habit is deeply engrained. I don’t need to go into the specifics but suffice it to say that I plunged into both habits with a certain outcome in mind. Now, these many years later, the reason I cling to those habits has changed. I began exercising for strength and weight loss. I now exercise for sanity. I began my scripture reading for sanity and to receive certain blessings from God. I now read my scriptures for strength and I no longer remember the promise I sought from God.

Both of my daily habits reap amazing benefits for me and I cannot imagine living without either of them. Both habits have blessed my life spiritually, emotionally and physically.

I recently read the following scripture from the Book of Mormon:

1 Nephi 3:7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

In this story, Nephi and his brothers have been assigned a difficult task. Nephi is also facing great opposition from his brothers. Because he has made a habit of seeking the Lord, he understands that the Lord will provide a way for the task to be accomplished.

Because the task that Nephi and his brothers set out to accomplish takes longer than anticipated, Nephi’s mother begins to complain to her husband and becomes convinced that her sons have been killed. She blames her husband and his visions for the loss she believes she has suffered.

However, the sons eventually return and in this verse, this is what she has to say:

1 Nephi 5:8 And she spake, saying: Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them. And after this manner of language did she speak.

What point does all of this have for you?

The good things that we make a habit of make a difference. In and of themselves, they may seem insignificant. However, as they are practiced, day in and day out, their positive influence in our lives often makes all the difference.

We live in a face-paced world that often tried to convince us that little things don’t matter and that everything has to be accomplished ASAP.

During my near-death experience, I learned that the Lord does not operate at a microwaveable pace. Instead, He knows what He wants to see materialize in the grand scheme of things and He is more interested in the step by step positive progression we make than in how quick we get there. He is interested in transforming each of us into a masterpeice – He is not interested in the “quick fix”.

Nephi’s habit of daily seeking the Lord transforms him into an individual that I think any of us would be proud to emulate. His willingness to exercise faith in the Lord is noteworthy.

For me, his story reminds me of the importance of being consistent in what may seem the small things of life. A morning prayer, a verse of scripture read, the habit of sharing a simple complement; in time, they all compound into something more grand and glorious than we might have anticipated.

Today, I share an inspirational article that echoes my point. I hope you will enjoy!:

Consistency: The Forgotten Skill That Makes All The Difference

Let’s say you were given a choice right now.

You could either have 3 million wired to your bank account this very second or you could get a single penny that doubles in value every day for the next 31 days.

Which one would you choose?

Perhaps you’ve heard of this scenario before. In that case you know you should go for the penny because that option will generate greater wealth.

Still, it’s intuitively hard to believe the penny will result in more money in the end. Why?

Because it takes so much longer to see the payoff.

The Compounding Penny

Let’s say you decide to choose the 3 million and a friend of yours gets the penny. On day five, your friend will have sixteen cents. Not much compared to your three million.

On day number ten your friend is up to $5,12.

After 20 days the penny has increased to $5,243.

It’s not until now the magic of the invisible compound effect starts to show.

On day 31, the small mathematical growth improvement has turned the penny into no less than $10,737,418.24 – more than three times your 3 million.

The compounding penny is a great example of why consistency over time is so important.

On day 29 you were still ahead of your friend who at that point had about $2,7 million. It isn’t until day 30 that she finally pulls ahead, with $5,3 million.

Very few things are as impressive as the magic of compounding pennies. And what’s more, this force is equally powerful in every area of your life (1).

The Myth of the Quick Fix

Now, lets pretend your friend regretted her decision early on and threw the money away in frustration? $5,12 after 10 days doesn’t seem like much when you compare it to the 3 million, after all.

Now she wouldn’t have gotten to experience the awesome effect of the compounding penny and she would’ve missed out on the maginificent results that were just within her reach.

And yet this is exactly how most of us spend our time. We invest in the gym membership but quit after a month. We buy the guitar and let it collect dust. We switch to a healthy diet for a week. We put away 10 percent of our salary into a savings account… one time. The list goes on and on.

We’ve become so accustomed to immediate results and instant gratification that we’ve come to believe our personal transformation should happen instantaneously, the minute we decide we want it to happen.

Everywhere we look there’s promises of getting rich quick, lotteries that’ll make you an overnight millionaire, fad diets and training programs that’ll transform your appearance in a few weeks.

Fast food, one-hour glasses, thirty-minute photo processing, overnight mail, microwaved food, instant hot water, emails and text messages that are delivered anywhere in the world on seconds notice. These are all things that have made us come to expect instant results to the point that when we don’t get them we get discouraged and quit.

The truth is lasting change doesn’t happen quickly. But if you let the magic of compounding efforts do their thing, over time you can have some truly amazing results in any area of your life. This requires a skill we seem to have forgotten…

The Power of Relentless Consistency

For the most part, the results we’re looking for won’t come quickly. But they don’t take that long either. In my experience, it takes just a little bit longer than we’re comfortable going for.

  • Exercising for one hour three times a week for month will show very little, if any, results.
  • Reading one book in January won’t make much of an impact on your personal growth.
  • Meditating for 10 minutes for a couple of weeks won’t show much of an affect on your mind.

But what if you decided to drop the quick fix mentality and commit for the long haul? What if, instead of obsessing over (and very likely getting discouraged by) the short-term results, you chose to focus on the small steps you need to take each day to get where you want to be?

What if you turned your obsession to the simply daily disciplines that you know will make all the difference, and leave the results to take care of themselves? What if you decided to make a permanent change and stick to it for life?

Ironically, by shifting your focus away from the results you’d see plenty of them. Within a year:

  • You would have 150+ hours of exercise under your belt. More than enough to have a huge impact on your health and appearance.
  • You would have read 10+ books. This means tons of new insights, ideas and concepts to enrich your life.
  • You would have 60+ hours of meditation experience. This translates (among many other benefits) into improved focus, creativity, compassion, memory, less stress and anxiety.

But these estimations aren’t accurate. You see, the effects of positive change tend to compound just like the penny did, and spill over into other areas. Once you get into exercising and start feeling good at it, you’ll want to do it more. And then you’ll naturally become motivated to change your diet. And your sleeping habits.

You’ll get the energy and inspiration to read more books. You’ll learn to read faster and get quicker at understanding the concepts and ideas. Then the ideas from the books you’re reading start spilling over to every area of your life. Soon this ripple effect will showing all kinds of results you weren’t even planning for. And the more consistent you are, the more rapid your personal growth will become.

How to Develop World-Class Consistency

1. Let go of your need for short-term results. The first step to develop game-changing consistency in everything you do is to realize that true, sustainable change doesn’t work the same way that your microwave does.

If you want to transform your health, physical appearance, finances, relationships or some other area of your life you need to ignore the mainstream advice for getting rich quick and building rock hard abs in three weeks. You cannot change your situation overnight, but you can change the direction you’re heading in. And that’s enough.

  • Take a look at you long-term goals. What small action do you need to do every day to get you there? Remember, ”small” is the key word here. A five minute walk. Veggies on your dinner plate. 2 pages in a book. 1 minute of meditating. Start so small that it’s impossible for you to say no and let the magic of the compound effect start working for you.

2. Commit to your habits, not your goals. Goals can give you a burning motivation… and they can get you completely stuck. The problem with focusing too much on your goals is that they remind you of how far you have yet to go which can lead to overwhelm and in worst case complete stagnation.

If you have 40 pounds to loose, and your scale keeps showing nothing but status quo or minuscule improvements it can be disheartening. But if you decide to measure only how many healthy behaviours you manage to pull off every day, suddenly you’re completely in control of the outcome. As you keep sticking to your daily habits, the more you’ll get addicted to them, and you’ll start to build some serious momentum.

  • Start tracking your habits. Create a list of your habits and check them off every time you complete them. Be proud of your small wins and you’ll soon start building some great momentum. Apps like coach.me is great for this.

3. Review your progress. No matter how good your intentions are you will slip up from time to time, especially when you’re just starting a new habit. That’s why it’s crucial to go back and review your progress continuously. Schedule fifteen minutes once a week to:

  • Celebrate what you did well. If you’ve pulled off a great streak in your habit formations, acknowledge it! Reinforce your habits by patting yourself on the back and being proud of what you’ve accomplished. Also examine what went wrong. If a habit for some reason didn’t get done, have a close look at the reasons why and then adjust your game plan accordingly. Perhaps you fell victim for the planning fallacy and need to reschedule. Maybe you keep forgetting your habits and need to attach them to implementation intentions. Perhaps you need to change your environment a bit to promote your habit. Maybe you need to raise the stakes. Feel free to shoot me a message if you get stuck.

Fall in Love With the Process

In the gym, people tend to be most impressed with the people who are the most fit. Not me. I’m most impressed with the people who are out of shape and still keep showing up.

Why? Because those fit people already got this stuff down. At least when it comes to their exercise. They’ve fallen in love with process. And when you’re in love with the process is no longer hard work to show up at the gym. It’s just something you do. It’s part of your lifestyle and your identity. You don’t need to muster up a bunch of willpower to go to the gym. You just go because that’s what you do and you’d feel worse if you didn’t.

The out of shape person doesn’t have this luxury. He or she is in the thick of it, working hard to getting the habit working, fighting to form a new identity of an active person. To me, that’s way more impressive.

The good news is anyone can fall in love with the process. Every expert was once an amateur and every master was first a beginner. What separates them from the crowd is their relentless consistency in showing up and doing the work.

Drop your need for immediate results, focus on your daily habits and keep adjusting as you go. The results are always within reach, just slightly beyond where most people are willing to go.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap,
but by the seeds that you plant.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Sources

1. The story about the compounding penny is borrowed from Darren Hardy’s awesome book The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success

Today’s inspiring articles was written by Patrik and is shared from the following website: http://www.selfication.com/mindset/consistency/

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