In essence, you make your choices, and then your choices make you. Every decision, no matter how slight, alters the trajectory of your life—whether or not to go to college, who to marry, to have that last drink before you drive, to indulge in gossip or stay silent, to make one more prospecting call or call it a day, to say I love you or not. Every choice has an impact on The Compound Effect of your life.
This chapter is about becoming aware of and making choices that support the expansion of your life. Sounds complicated, but you’ll be amazed by its simplicity. No longer will 99 percent of your choices be unconscious. No more will most of your daily routines and traditions come as a reaction to your programming. You’ll ask yourself (and be able to answer), “How many of my behaviors have I not ‘voted on’? What am I doing that I didn’t consciously choose to do, yet continue to do every day?”
By employing the same idiot-proof strategies I’ve used to catapult my own life and career, strengthened by The Compound Effect, you’ll be able to loosen the mysterious grip of the things that are unwinding your life and pulling you in the wrong direction. You’ll be able to hit the pause button before stumbling into idiot territory. You’ll experience the ease of making decisions that lead to behaviors and habits that support you, every time.
Your biggest challenge isn’t that you’ve intentionally been making bad choices. Heck, that would be easy to fix. Your biggest challenge is that you’ve been sleepwalking through your choices. Half the time, you’re not even aware you’re making them! Our choices are often shaped by our culture and upbringing. They can be so entwined in our routine behaviors and habits that they seem beyond our control. For instance, have you ever been going about your business, enjoying your life, when all of sudden you made a stupid choice or series of small choices that ultimately sabotaged your hard work and momentum, all for no apparent reason? You didn’t intend to sabotage yourself, but by not thinking about your decisions—weighing the risks and potential outcomes—you found yourself facing unintended consequences. Nobody intends to become obese, go through bankruptcy, or get a divorce, but often (if not always) those consequences are the result of a series of small, poor choices.
Elephants Don’t Bite
Have you ever been bitten by an elephant? How about a mosquito? It’s the little things in life that will bite you. Occasionally, we see big mistakes threaten to destroy a career or reputation in an instant—the famous comedian who rants racial slurs during a stand-up routine, the drunken anti-Semitic antics of a once-celebrated humanitarian, the anti-gay-rights senator caught soliciting gay sex in a restroom, the admired female tennis player who uncharacteristically threatens an official with a tirade of expletives. Clearly, these types of poor choices have major repercussions. But even if you’ve pulled such a whopper in your past, it’s not extraordinary massive steps backward or the tragic single moments that we’re concerned with here.
For most of us, it’s the frequent, small and seemingly inconsequential choices that are of grave concern. I’m talking about the decisions you think don’t make any difference at all. It’s the little things that inevitably and predictably derail your success. Whether they’re bone-headed maneuvers, no-biggie behaviors, or are disguised as positive choices (those are especially insidious), these seemingly insignificant decisions can completely throw you off course because you’re not mindful of them. You get overwhelmed, space out and become unaware of the little actions that take you way off course. The Compound Effect works, all right. It always works, remember? But in this case it works against you because you’re sleepwalking.
For instance, you inhale a soda and bag of potato chips and suddenly realize only after you polished off the last chip that you blew an entire day of healthy eating—and you weren’t even hungry. You get caught up and lose two hours watching mindless TV—scratch that, let’s give you some credit and make it an educational documentary—before realizing you spaced on preparing for an important presentation to land a valuable client. You blurt out a knee-jerk lie to a loved one for no good reason, when the truth would have worked just fine. What’s going on?
You’ve allowed yourself to make a choice without thinking. And as long as you’re making choices unconsciously, you can’t consciously choose to change that ineffective behavior and turn it into productive habits. It’s time to WAKE UP and make empowering choices.
This article is excerpted from SUCCESS magazine publisher Darren Hardy’s book, The Compound Effect.
Content republished with permission from Darren Hardy, Publisher of SUCCESS magazine. For more great insights, tips and strategies on success and achievement go to http://DarrenHardy.SUCCESS.com. More about Darren Hardy can be found at: http://DarrenHardy.SUCCESS.com/About.