Time is one of our most precious irreplaceable resources. It ticks on with each passing minute. We cannot stop it. Tick, tick, tick.
For most people, they view this process of time passing as an enemy. This is because time cannot be replaced. Once a day has passed, it’s gone forever. This is why we dread our birthdays. Another year is behind us.
And sadly, most people use time to their disadvantage.
John works 60 plus hours a week at a stressful job he hates. He doesn’t eat healthy and typically ends up eating out a great deal with co-workers. Because he works so much, he doesn’t have time to exercise. Even worse, he continues to smoke because it helps him deal with the stress of work. When he comes home at night, he ends up having a few beers watching TV. Due to his work schedule, he isn’t able to spend a great deal of time with his family and typically isn’t in the best of moods when he does spend time with them.
Is time is John’s friend?
Will John’s life improve with each passing year?
Unfortunately, John’s life is going to get harder each year. Due to the stress of his job, he is certain to encounter several health problems. His smoking, drinking, and lack of exercise will accelerate these health issues. More than likely, his relationships with his family will also deteriorate over time, too. Time is NOT John’s friend.
Time can be a major asset, or a major liability depending on how we live on a day-to-day basis.
We’re getting richer, or poorer with each passing year.
We’re getting healthier, or sicker with each passing year.
We’re getting stronger, or weaker with each passing year.
We’re getting smarter, or dumber with each passing year.
We’re improving relationships, or we destroying relationships with each passing year.
Something cool happens when we stop thinking of time as the enemy and start seeing it as an opportunity. Why not make the passage of time our friend and use it to improve our lives? How you might wonder? Through compounding.
The underlying principal of compound interest is to use time to our advantage by reinvesting investment income into new assets over long periods of time. These new assets begin to provide income and this process repeats over time as more income is reinvested. This graph shows the power of compound interest over long periods of time:
$1,000 invested at 8% annually turns into $2,199,507 in 100 years. One hundred small deposits compounded with interest turns into $2 million dollars over a long period of time. Time is used as an advantage in this simple investment plan.
Well, we can use this same magical compounding process with any area of our lives. The best part is we don’t need to make massive changes right now to use compounding to our advantage. In fact, it works better if we make one small change at at time. Over time, we layer these small positive changes on top of each other using time to our advantage.
To illustrate how this might work, I dug up an old newsletter I wrote for my gym back in 2012 highlighting a simple “compounding” plan someone could follow to improve their nutrition. Here’s a portion of this newsletter:
I recently had dinner with an old friend who is in fantastic shape. His name is Jeff Preston and we’ve been friends for years. He has been in amazing shape since the first day I met him and continues to maintain his six pack day-in and day-out. At dinner I wanted to find out exactly how he does it. I made up my mind that I was not letting him leave until he shared his strategy.
When the average person goes on a diet, they typically lose weight but gain it all back within a year or two. When someone loses weight and keeps it off for years, they are doing something worthy of study. Jeff finally shared his strategy and it was so good I thought I would share it with our members. He said maintaining his nutrition is easy because eating healthy has become a habit for him. He doesn’t know how to eat differently. It’s automatic.
So the BIG question is how do we make healthy eating a habit? This is where Jeff shared what I believe is one of best strategies for long-term fat loss and health.
He said he decided to change ONE small thing he ate each month. In his first month, he decided to simply eliminate soda. Instead of having soda, he chose water. He didn’t make any other changes in the first month. He continued eating everything else he was previously eating, except he switched from soda to water.
In the second month, Jeff made ONE more change. Instead of having a candy bar or a bag of chips at work in the afternoon, he switched to an apple or another healthy snack. In addition, he stuck with the change he made in the first month and continued to drink water instead of soda. He didn’t make any other changes to his nutrition and continued eating everything he was previously eating.
In the third month, he made ONE more change and continued this process each month for 12 months. By the end of the 12 months, Jeff had completely changed the way he ate. In the process, he lost a significant amount of fat, had a lot more energy, and felt 100% better. In fact, before starting this plan, Jeff was on the heavy side. Today, he maintains low body fat with ease.
Jeff realized it’s significantly harder to change many things at the same time. He didn’t want to go on a all encompassing diet because he didn’t think he could stick to it. The reason why is because we have limited willpower and this limited willpower is used up quickly each day. If we try to change too many things at once, we deplete our willpower making lasting change extremely difficult.
It’s far better to focus on small changes and to layer these changes on top of each other over time. In other words, it’s far better to consistently compound small improvements over long periods of time and this is because these improvements become habits.
What do you think? Do you think you could stick with ONE new small change each month? I’ll bet you can and it wouldn’t be very hard!
By changing ONE thing at a time, we conserve our willpower allowing us to maintain this ONE change. After a month, the change has become a habit and no longer requires our willpower to maintain. Our willpower can then be shifted to ONE new change in our nutrition.
In my humble opinion, Jeff’s strategy is brilliant. It’s simple, easy to follow, and provides lasting change. Instead of fighting our willpower, we use it to our advantage. Simply make one small change each month and layer these changes on top of each other. Here’s an example for improving how you eat:
Month 1: Eliminate soda & other sugary drinks
Month 2: Healthier afternoon snack (Almonds/Celery & PB2)
Month 3: Healthier breakfast (Eggs & bacon/Protein Shake)
Month 4: Add vegetables to your dinner
Month 5: Eliminate bread entirely for all dinner meals
Month 6: Ice Cream/Cookies only on Sundays evening
Month 7: Healthier lunch (Salad w/Protein)
Month 8: Add a lean protein to every dinner (Chicken/Fish)
Month 9: Skip the mid-morning snack
Month 10: Take fish-oil supplement daily
Month 11: Healthier evening snack (Strawberries/Cream)
Month 12: Switch to low-carb booze (wine/vodka)
Notice in this plan, you’re not counting calories, making drastic changes, or starving yourself? You’re simply locking in ONE new healthy eating habit each month without stress, anxiety, or having to obsess over anything.
The cool part is you can use this simple plan to improve any area of your life. Here’s a one-page worksheet you can use: