In 1989 Dr. Steven Covey wrote a book so popular it’s been translated into forty languages and has spawned several follow-up books, seminars and courses. Everyone from high school dropouts to world leaders have used Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” as a roadmap to creating a better life, and why not?
The book offers seven habits that (when applied) guide readers towards living fulfilling, meaningful, lives based on – but not limited to – qualities like integrity, honesty and transparency. With over twenty five million copies sold, you can bet the advice is rock solid.
Regardless of whether a habit is good or bad, if we do it repeatedly over time our actions will always deliver a big result over time – Just ask any triathlete who trains for hours each day or a two-pack-a-day-smoker. While both have strong habits, you can imagine that the long-term results they get will be radically different.
How about the habits of spending and saving money? There’s a financial strategy that says rather than buying a coffee each day, the habit of saving the five dollars over time turn into a big old pile of cash. Let’s find out.
One Week $35
One Month (30 days) $150
One Year $1,825
Ten Years $18,250
Better still, if this money were earning compound interest, the sum would be substantially higher. So yes, saving five dollars a day really CAN impact our net worth in a way that a daily latte never could.
But what if instead our habit is to pick up a cup of joe from the local barista each morning? In this case we know that our bank account would be as sparse as the cup that held a recently consumed latte. To caffeinate or not to caffeinate; that is the question!
Finally, there’s this: According to The Pew Research Center, the average person will read twelve books per year. Truth is, many don’t read even a single book in a year. But what if instead of being online an hour each day, people had a habit of reading? At one book per week, the numbers would be:
One Week One book
One Month (30 days) Four books
One Year Fifty-two books
Ten Years Five hundred and twenty books
By reading just an hour each day, they’d beat the national average by 40%! As someone who endorses self-education, I see anyone who embraces this habit (especially if reading educational books) having a massive edge over their social media addicted counterparts, not to mention their work competitors.
Be it denying a purchased latte or finding time to read each day, it’s obvious that over time daily habits compound, and have lasting effects on the quality of our lives. The question is will we choose habits that help us or hurt us? And yes, it is a choice.
Imagine areas like exercise, money management, diet, relationships, screen time, self-education, family commitments, then ask yourself what the long-term outcomes would be the focus was on developing good habits in each?
As earlier examples showed, over the long-term even the smallest of habits can have measurable impact how just five dollars a day can eventually become several thousands of dollars. Does this mean we should never buy another cup of coffee again? Hardly!
What it means is we should examine whatever we do habitually, whether it’s every day or every week, and then examine the long-term effect is. One coffee per week costs a lot less money than seven coffees per week, and the difference in our cash saved (or net worth) will be reflected over time.
By that same token, when tallied up over a year, spending an hour each day on social media instead of reading won’t give us the self- education we might require for our career, nor will eating a hamburger a day instead of an apple a day. Like everything, the key to treats is moderation.
The trick to long-term success is to make sure our daily and weekly habits work for us, not against us; this is why understanding the science behind habits is an important first step to help propel us towards long-term success, whatever that looks like for us.
Now with that said, it’s time for me to get another coffee; from the kitchen, of course.
Author Bio: David Knapp-Fisher
As founder of The Inspired Humans Project, David loves sharing inspirational stories. His TEDx talk, “Discipline or Regret, a Father’s Decision” been viewed over 120,000 times, and his first book, “Punch Failure in The Face, Then Buy It a Beer” has 36 five star reviews on amazon.ca.
David lives in Victoria B.C. where he spends most of his time trying (& usually failing) to stump his son with movie trivia, or planning his next big adventure; both while drinking great coffee, of course.