Little Things Make the Difference

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June 17, 2010 by Erin Casey 

Everyday choices compound over time—for better or for worse.

How many times have you given up on something because you didn’t see any progress? We’ve all done it. We live in an instant-gratification culture, and the lack of visible results can be highly discouraging… so disheartening that the tendency is to throw in the towel.

You walk every day for 30 minutes during your lunch break for a week or two, but the scale doesn’t budge.

You hold your tongue with your spouse, determined not to spit out a sarcastic comment… but they keep acting in the same boneheaded way.

You pay a little extra on your credit card, or bump up your contribution to your 401(k) for a few months, but the impact on your balance is negligible.

So why not go back to reading novels at lunch, saying the first stinging remark that comes to mind or spending your hard-earned money? Those little things aren’t enough to make a real difference, right?

Wrong. Little things make all the difference.

In The Compound Effect, SUCCESS magazine Publisher Darren Hardy explains how much those small, seemingly inconsequential choices matter. Your choices, even the tiniest ones, add up over time. That’s the essence of the Compound Effect. But “time” doesn’t mean days or even weeks. It means months, years.

If you’ll develop the patience and the perseverance to continue making positive choices, you’ll love the result. But, throw in the towel and make negative or neutral choices, and instead of moving toward the life, the job, the relationships or the body you desire, you’ll steadily move away from those goals. Is it any wonder that, on average, Americans gain one to two pounds a year? Choose not to be average.

So how can you avoid average? Incorporate healthy or positive habits into your life. Get so good at making positive choices that they become your default.

Try this exercise.

  1. Start by focusing on one of your goals. What do you want to accomplish by the end of the year?
  2. Now, write down what needs to happen to make that goal a reality.
  3. What are the habits you need to develop? Name them all, but pick just one or two to work on this month.
  4. Don’t sabotage yourself by trying to change everything at once, but don’t cheat yourself either. If you’re already doing pretty well in one area, determine to continue to improve that area and develop a new habit.
  5. Track your progress daily. Become aware of your choices so that you can course correct day by day. In The Compound Effect and on the book’s website (, Hardy offers a few free resources. The one to check out for this exercise is “The Rhythm Register.” It’s a tool you can use to track your behavior and keep yourself moving in the right direction.

“Your only path to success is through a continuum of mundane, unsexy, unexciting, and sometimes difficult daily disciplines compounded over time,” Hardy writes. But the payoff can be extreme. “The results, the life and the lifestyle of your dreams can be yours when you put the Compound Effect to work for you…. You will create your fairytale ending.”

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11 Responses to “Little Things Make the Difference”

  1. Deb Welch on June 18th, 2010 8:36 am

    This article came at the perfect time - I had some of these thoughts this week and it is SO EASY to believe them and just give up. I think we could all use reminders like this one.

    Its also a good idea to have a support network that can encourage you, and that you can encourage, to keep trucking when life gets hard.

    Thank you!


  2. Suzette on June 18th, 2010 2:36 pm

    It reminds me of the story from the movie “The Secret”. When we plant a seed it seems to take so long for anything to appear above ground, but underneath so much is happening. Any time I feel the pull toward quitting I think about a little seedling, just about to break through the surface and I’m re-inspired to continue my work toward my goals. I choose to believe that my actions, words and thoughts are taking me where I’ve determined I want to be.

  3. Angela Schaefers on June 18th, 2010 3:26 pm

    good post and tips!

    I agree little things matter and doing so consistently matters too! I find just doing one little thing that is good for me leads to more and more!

    I agree with Hardy… it isn’t always pretty or easy being successful, but it’s ALWAYS worth it!

  4. Mary G. on June 22nd, 2010 10:05 am

    Terrific post and great suggestions!

    Patience and perserverance over time will make it so worthwhile. Giving yourself permission to do one thing at a time and focusing on the positive outcome will encourage and empower you to succeed.

    Deb mentioned a support network and I could not agree more! Being there for each other makes the “trip” much more enjoyable.

  5. federal grants on June 22nd, 2010 11:40 am

    nice post. thanks.

  6. Stacey P. on July 5th, 2010 8:55 am

    Your post and this book, The Compound Effect, are so important because they bring light to how are choices, small and large, affect the course of our lives, for better or worse. It doesn’t always feel like we have a choice because self-sabotaging behaviors can be so ingrained, but we do. The critical point is to become more conscious of our daily choices and how they are moving our lives forward, bettering ourselves as people or are keeping us stagnant in our growth.

    Thank you for your post, and I will definitely be reading the book!

  7. Joanna Sutter (Fitness & Spice) on September 2nd, 2010 1:01 pm


    Some days really are unsexy aren’t they? Goals worth achieving are worth the work, and the planning, and the focus. Thanks for the reminders!

  8. Jire on September 20th, 2010 8:59 am

    Thanks for sharing this article, it came in very timely because am trying to go back to working out regularly, regardless of the usual challenges and discouragement…..little drops make an ocean.

  9. Andrea on September 25th, 2010 11:33 am

    This article is so right!

    I have just started a new project and since it has been taking a while to see the results, I started having thoughts of giving it up or just not going further with the project.
    Persistence is the key!
    I know I will get there!

  10. Evi Indrawanto on October 29th, 2010 11:11 pm

    Thanks for reminding me. I used to be so, throwing some good habits because I didn’t see the results directly

  11. nancy on September 14th, 2011 8:24 am

    This has come to me on time. I have always wanted to go forward in my life but i give up so easily when i come across the slightest problem. I guess I’ve always imagined that i should always make it in life without struggle . Thanks for the reminder that good things always come to those who wait not quitters.

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