Compound interest

At first, things are usually difficult.

When trying something for the first time, or the first few times, or even the first 100 times, progress is usually frustratingly slow. The temptation to give up can be overwhelming. Especially when it feels like you aren't getting better.

Compound interest to the rescue...

Giving up feels more rational than continuing to struggle. But you shouldn't give up. At least not until you push past the initial struggle. Regardless of how slow progress feels, it quickly starts to add up.

You might not feel it, or see it. You might doubt that you're progressing at all. But you are. If you've ever played an idle clicker game you'll be familiar with the following scenario. At first you're clicking away stupidly to collect single-digit resources, and an hour later you're generating millions per second.

Why? Because your asset base has increased and while you're busy with other things, each of your accumulated assets are making your richer without your intervention. Life is the same, except on a much slower timescale.

A more realistic figure

The stats in the previous tweet will never be accurate. Diminishing returns would never allow growth to be that extreme. But making tiny improvements every day for a year... that's possible. If you put in the work daily and you're only improving ever so slightly (or not at all for some days), you're still growing like crazy.

The thing about learning...

Do you suck at writing or drawing or cooking because you've only just begun? Carry on scribbling, spilling, swearing and sweating. Just keep at it for months on end.

But starting out is just too difficult!

If you feel like your goals are unattainable, scale them down. Aim for something way, way smaller. Do that, then work on something slightly less embarrassing. Then again, and again.

Seriously, start small

Get into the habit of at least attempting to grow. Just focus on showing up and actively trying. Ignore the output, at this point the results don't matter. Only the consistency of your input matters.

All you need to do is show up consistently and give yourself the time and leeway to suck.

Stack the odds in your favor

If you're forming a habit, you will keep reverting to the mean (your old behaviours) unless you shape the environment around yourself. This is why drug addicts have an unbelievably difficult time getting clean by remaining in the same environment that they've done drugs in.

Everything grows slowly

Skills, habits, ideas, money. Anything of significance takes time to grow. You need to keep reminding yourself of this every single day. When you try to grow but lose track of this fact, you're more likely to fall into dispair and start to hate yourself and the world around you.

Then you become a magician

For skill-based compound interest, time and practice will almost always turn into mastery.

Some good places to start

This list seems pithy, but do these things and then look back in a year to realize how not-pithy it truly is.

Cheating luck

Finally, if you really want to get ahead in life, tackle assymetric opportunities. These are things that have a disproportionately large output relative to your initial input.