“If you have one apple in your left hand and one apple in your right hand, how many do you have?”
What a stupid question. Two, obviously. Where are we here, in elementary school?
“Now, if I give you three more, how many do you have?”
Five. And my hands full — how am I supposed to hold all these?
“Imagine if I give you one apple every day. What do you have after a year?”
A pile of rotten fruit. Or a vitamin overdose. Or a broke doctor because the apple a day kept him away and left him to starve.
If we do the math properly though, we have 369 apples after a year. Holy shit. That’s a lot of fruit for a single person. In fact, that would probably fill up a significant portion of your closet. If you’re one to put apples in a closet, that is.
The more important point here is: things compound over time. If I get one apple every day, I have a lot of apples eventually. And this is true for every action that is repeated consistently. So let’s move out of elementary school and look at a couple real-world examples.
Physical fitness: Imagine you do 10 push-ups every day. After a year, you have done 3,650 push-ups. Try doing that in one sitting. Or ten. Pretty impossible, eh? But over a year, it’s easily achieved.
Mental health: according to my meditation app Headspace, I’ve meditated for 59 hours within the past two years. That doesn’t include all the times that I’ve meditated without the app. 59 hours — that’s like meditating for 1.5 workweeks straight. So basically, it’s the same as if I had been a full-time meditator for 7 workdays.
Writing: I started journaling regularly about a year ago. So far, I’ve written 178 pages in tiny handwriting. Would probably be 300–400 on a computer. In a year, I wrote a fucking book. I’m just afraid I don’t want to publish it.
Biking: My bike broke about half a year ago. It was pretty cheap, I won’t lie. And then I ran the numbers and figured it had a solid 3,500 km on it — simply from biking to work and back every day for a year. That’s further than going from Frankfurt, Germany to Murmansk, Russia. Which is at the arctic circle and one of Russia’s northernmost cities.
Saving money: Last but not least, saving money compounds too. If you save 50 € a month, you’ll have saved 3,000 € after 5 years. Not bad for a pretty insignificant sum if you’re working full time. Now, if you invest that money in the financial markets, you get even more: taking a 4% interest rate p.a., you’d end up with 3,246 €. From taking out basically nothing of your paycheck. And if you put aside more money, these effects get crazier and crazier.
Small actions matter. Just like you should show up every day, if you take a small action every day, it’ll add up to quite a lot over the years. You cannot fix a problem at once, but over time. And it’s better to start today than tomorrow.
And now, I gotta go. My closet is moldy, smelly and disgusting. I really gotta get rid of these apples.
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