So you want to achieve greatness, you’re in similar company. Just being real – but I wouldn’t say I’ve achieved greatness but I am on the journey if you’d like to join me. Today – if you’re curious – was one of those days that reminded me of the quote about how to achieve greatness and how it’s doing the little things done consistently that end up with the great result. (Jeff Olson – The Slight Edge

One of the podcasts I listen to is Personal Radical Finance. It’s a finance podcasts aimed at giving people an a college quality education about how money works. It’s at times dry – at times funny – overall it’s eye opening and interesting. A great podcast to listen to at 2x speed (I normally listen to all podcasts at 2x and some 3x. On a side note – I can listen to a 45 minute podcast in about 12 minutes by listening at 3x and skipping the ads. Try it – your mind can process some at 3x and others 2x or just 1.5x. Once you get used to it regular speed will seem like a snails pace.

What was the point about mentioning the finance podcast? Well one of the things with money and investing is the value of compounding interest. Basically – if you get 10% return on $1000 investment yearly, and you plan to keep it invested for just one year you make $100. If you plan to leave it invested for a long period of time – then that interest becomes another little power generator and earns interest on that interest… And each year your “main 10%” gets added to it. So – $1000 day one, $1100 year 1 end, $1210 year 2 end, $1331 year 3 end, after 30 years it grows to $17,449!!! That ONE TIME investment of $1000 starts to grow and really grow over time.

Sometimes it’s a one time investment and just waiting the time for it to grow – othertimes it’s the little house and yard projects that overtime improve life and pay dividends for years down the road.

– shelves.

I picked up shelves as a Christmas present from my mom. Slightly odd – but thoughtful right? The gift of organization. Truly a mom gift. Anyways – we bought the shelves and since it was going to be a bit of a project getting them installed – they sad in our utility room for months.

That small task – once done – of installing shelves meant we could have so many things organized and actually have space to live. With 2 (almost 3 – any day now!) kids, we go through a bunch of laundry and store a lot of clothes as kids grow quickly. Storing the right clothes for the right season and trying to stay neat and organized is a challenge. So why wouldn’t I want to do that small task of installing shelves?

As more of a “visionary” – it’s not super fulfilling to hang shelves. It’s just another task – a small one that will take at most a couple hours. There are so many better ways to spend those couple of hours though! So the task gets ignored until eventually it just has to be done. Here’s the thing – having the benefit of those shelves is amazing.

The benefit of that one small task done pays dividends every time I walk into our utility room. It pays emotion dividends every time my wife walks into the room.

Greatness – overnight successes – are born through the little things done consistently. They’re the Youtube sensation that posted consistently on Youtube before finally getting their 213th video to “go viral”. They’re the musician that’s played in multiple small bands around town for 6 years before finding the one that clicks and takes off. They’re the author that writes a book – only to submit it to publisher after publisher – rejection after rejection – only to find one that accepts their work and turns into the next teen super-hit.

I think it was David Allan of “Getting Things Done” (good book) that talks about his 2 minute rule and how if you have a task that takes less than 2 minutes to complete – you should just get it done. The “cost” of procrastinating the task means your mind lingers on it – storing it – contemplating it.

There is giant value in just “wrapping up” the loose ends – those projects hanging over your yead.

Life is the sum of it’s parts – the sequence (see my post about what defines life here)

There’s huge value in spending a day to wrap up those little projects lingering around – those things you’d like to do “someday” because of some reason or another. While the little projects definitely don’t have the same giant payoff like spending a full day enduring hard work to do something big, the shorter tasks spread the impact across multiple areas of life.

Small projects area balance between mental and physical work that’s for sure. Often the small projects – the little things – which have been procrastinated involve decisions and hard work along with them – but they aren’t usually just hard work alone.

When it comes to doing the little things – the big thing is that getting things done has the overall benefit of peace of mind.

Finishing things brings mental freedom – emotional freedom from doing what you know you should be doing.

Doing what you know you should makes you feel better about yourself.

Particularly the next time the rain comes – and you raked the yard or tilled the compost in the garden – you know that NOW – after that hard work – the rain isn’t a hindrance or making your work more challenging (when you get to it) – you can focus on the rain and the good parts of the rain.

Feel better when the next rain comes, or when the in-laws surprise pop-in to see all the work you’ve been doing. You feel accomplished and proud of those little tasks. Sure – it’s not as exciting as
that big win like staining the deck (yet to come) but it’s momentum. Consistency is king.

Lastly I’ll wrap up with this.

6 Steps to Actionable Change – (and how you can be getting the little things done consistently):
– pick one thing to change
– pick one element about it that you’re going to change
– make sure you’re actually mentally ready to commit to the change.
– pick a calendar and end goal for “success” of your goal
– plan some flexibility or what you’ll do if you slip up
– find someone you’ll be accountable to

For those following my personal side – the baby still hasn’t come yet. Ugh… Getting anxious – me AND my wife.