In The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success, entrepreneur and publisher of SUCCESS magazine Darren Hardy discusses everything from achieving your goals to breaking bad habits to capturing momentum. He believes that success is possible by performing a series of small and smart steps. That's what he means by the term "compound effect."
He describes himself as the tortoise, who, he says, always wins the race, because even though he's slower, he's consistent. So rather than quick fixes or magic bullets, consistency is key. More specifically, it's the consistency of applying positive habits that leads to success.
One of Hardy's chapters focuses on building momentum so you can accomplish your goals. Basically, he believes in keeping a precise routine while at the same time regularly shaking up your everyday.
According to Hardy, "The key to becoming world-class in your endeavors is to build your performance around world-class routines." Elsewhere he writes: "The rhythm of daily action aligned with your goals creates the momentum that separates dreamers from super-achievers."
Here are some of his ideas for building momentum.
1. Develop a morning routine. The middle of the day is usually harder to anticipate or control, but you can almost always manage how your day begins (and ends), Hardy writes. He has a very specific morning routine, which might inspire you to create your own rise-and-shine rituals.
He wakes up between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. and snoozes for eight minutes. During that time, Hardy does three things. (Clearly, he makes the most of his time!) First, he thinks about everything he's grateful for. Second, he thinks of one person to send his love to, which he calls a "mental love letter." Third, he thinks about his No. 1 goal and considers the three things he's going to do today to make strides toward that goal.
For instance, as he was writing The Compound Effect, his most important goal was working on his marriage. So he'd plan three things he could do to make sure his wife felt loved.
Next, while brewing his coffee, Hardy performs various stretches for 10 minutes. Once his coffee is made, he spends 30 minutes reading something positive and informative. Then after the alarm sounds that his half hour is up, he works on his most important project for an hour.
At 7 a.m., he spends 15 minutes reviewing his top three goals for the year and for the next five years, his objectives for the quarter and top goal for the week and month.
He continues carving out his priorities by setting his top three "most valuable priorities" (MVP) for the day, which will generate the greatest results and move him toward his larger goals. Only after this activity does he check his email for the first time. Then he starts working on those MVPs.
2. Develop an evening routine. In the evening, Hardy likes to "cash out," which is when he evaluates how his day went and whether he accomplished everything he set out to do. He asks himself the following questions:
Compared to your plan for the day, how did it go? What do you need to carry over for tomorrow's plan? What else needs to be added, based on what showed up during the day? What's no longer important and needs to be scratched out?
Hardy also records any insights or ideas he's come up with that day. Before falling asleep, he reads about 10 pages of an inspiring book.
3. Shake up your routine. While having a routine is important, it also get can boring and sap your passion. Shaking up your routine helps you challenge yourself and think in new ways.
For instance, Hardy shakes up his routine with both big and small adventures, such as visiting new places, tasting new foods and taking new classes.
4. Plan ahead. Creating daily routines helps you develop a rhythm that takes you from a week to a month to a year, according to Hardy. And this naturally helps you build momentum. He compares rhythm-setting to a locomotive.
…Once the train starts rolling, the wheels get into a rhythm. If the pressure remains consistent, the train gains momentum, and watch out! At 55 miles an hour, that train can crash through a five-foot, steel-reinforced concrete wall and keep on going. Envisioning your success as an unstoppable locomotive may help you stay enthusiastic about getting into your own rhythm.
To get into the rhythm of deepening his marriage, Hardy and his wife plan their together time. Without exception at 6 p.m. — they set their alarms! — every Friday, they do something special. They don't work on Saturdays because that's designated as family day. Every Sunday at 6 p.m. they review their relationship. They discuss what they appreciated during the week along with the adjustments they can make for the next week. Every month they schedule memorable activities such as eating at a fancy restaurant or sailing in the bay. Every quarter they plan a getaway for two to three days.
Again, having a specific schedule takes the guesswork out of what you need to be doing next, which again, boosts momentum, Hardy writes. "Everything happens naturally. We've created a rhythm that gives us momentum."
5. Record behaviors on your "Rhythm Register." If you enjoy having a written record of your progress, then this tip is definitely for you. Hardy created a chart that "keep[s] track of the rhythm of a new behavior." It's like a score sheet where you write down how many times a week you actually performed a behavior, what your goal was and then your net result. You can download the "Rhythm Register" here along with other free resources.
Hardy's routine may be too rigid for many people. (It is for me.) But what I like about his plan is that he focuses on the activities that truly nourish him — as his morning routine shows — and doesn't let things like email rule his day. Instead of being a slave to tedious tasks, he focuses on pursuing meaningful goals. And even though he's super busy, he makes ample time for his loved ones and practices being grateful every day.
Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor at Psych Central and blogs regularly about eating and self-image issues on her own blog, Weightless.