The Key to Long Lasting Change

Key Points:

  • Your life is the compounding effect of your daily habits. The clutter in your house is the compounding effect of your cleaning habits. Your weight is the compounding effect of your eating habits. Your physical fitness is the compounding effect of your exercise habits.
  • Much like compounding interest in your bank account or superannuation, compounding takes time. The effects of this compounding are not linear – which leads to frustration. But with patience comes mastery.
  • Goals can set our direction. They identify what we want to achieve. But it is our systems that allow us to achieve these goals.
  • It is your commitment to this system that will determine your success.


A Personal Note

As many of you know – I am a complete open book. Whilst I might be somewhat reserved with the complete details, sharing the intricacies of my own life allows me to connect and develop relationships with my clients. I also believe this allows my clients to be more open with me. This is particularly relevant when identifying psychosocial impacts of pain. We are strongly aware that factors such as beliefs around an injury, as well as personal stress have a tremendous impact and can amplify your pain state beyond what is actually happening in the tissues.  Although we can talk more about this in future blogs!

A key reason that I came across to Perth in the first place is that my brother has been here for almost a decade now. Being from a very small family, we were completely scattered for a long period. I was living in Melbourne, with my brother living here in Perth and my parents in Adelaide. So I decided to make the jump across the big red desert. When learning this, the second question most people ask – is “what does your brother do for work?” For this, I generally give a vague answer of ‘he works in business improvement.’

But the more in-depth answer, is that – working in a consultancy setting – he works closely with businesses who have a goal to achieve – becoming more profitable, increasing production, or reducing costs – which he must facilitate. The answer to achieving these goals is to implement systems to improve efficiencies. It is the commitment to these systems which will allow the team to achieve success.

Now, this sounds very business-y. But in fact, it is the same process that should apply to our own daily lives. If our goal is to lift heavier in the gym, run faster, or recover from an injury. Simply having this goal is not enough. It is our commitment to the process – of doing a structured exercise routine, getting out for a run on a daily basis or sticking to our rehabilitation exercises – that determines our success.

It is the commitment to the process that determines our success.


Your Life is the Compounding Effect of Your Daily Habits

We are all prone to super bursts of motivation.

When we finally get sick of our household clutter after spending a few days in lockdown and decide to clean up. Or perhaps, after watching the Rocky Balboa movies for the 30th time and deciding that we can look like Sylvester Stallone with a few extra reps in the gym. Infact, this initial burst of motivation is a key driver for initiating change, determining your vision and goal setting. But, whilst doing a few push-up reps alongside Balboa on the living room floor might give us a short term dopamine hit, it is not going to achieve a long term change.

Your life is the compounding effects of your daily habits.

The clutter in your house is the compounding effect of your cleaning habits or mentality towards ‘holding on’ to cherished items. Your weight is most likely the compounding effect of your long term eating habits, and your physical fitness is the compounding effect of your physical activity habits. On a deeper level, a low self image can be the compounding effect of long term habits revolving around low self-talk or putting ourselves in situations that undermine our character and self esteem.

The key is working out ‘the process’… Working out the small steps, or daily routines and habits that are required to achieve the end goal, and becoming addicted to them.


Compounding Takes Time

Much like the interest in your bank account and superannuation – dramatic change takes time.

For those suffering with a long term injury, this is a key point to remember. Infact, on a note for the majority of my clients presenting to physiotherapy, I find it being my role predominantly to motivate my clients and ensure they are on the right track. It is my role to remind these people that simply striving for that small, seemingly insignificant improvement day-to-day, or week-to-week will yield incredible results over time.

The point of the illustration above is simply to state that improving by an insignificant 1% everyday, will result in a 38% improvement within a year. If we are simply looking to improve holistically, this 1% improvement could come in the form of mental health strategies, improving our physical fitness or skipping one particular junk food.

Furthermore, the rate of this improvement is exponential. It may seem insignificant at first, but over time this improvement will be dramatic. Getting through the first few weeks and months is the hardest.

Mastery requires patience.

And, the outside world will only see the dramatic change – not the small steps that went into the process. Not the sweat and tears, the hard times or the times where we fell but picked ourselves back up.


Focus on Systems, Not Goals

And, as I have mentioned before, the key to achieving our goals is to become system focused, as opposed to being goal focused. And the reason, is that simply being goal focused is in itself, a limiting factor.

We all have all heard of the goal motivated person before. The person who says to their partner, “Once I have got this promotion, we will be happy.” Or, “once we have bought our first house, we will be happy.” It creates a system of delayed happiness. But, at the point where we finally achieve our goal we are hardly content. We savour this moment for only the smallest time, until we create a new goal and therefore delay our happiness again. Or conversely, perhaps we finally achieve our goal; and then lack motivation once we have reached this point.

In a strange summation, throughout my lockdown experience, I remember watching the Pursuit of Happiness of Netflix and coming across the quote above. “How did he know to put the pursuit part in there?” In my head, the answer is simply that once we have ‘achieved’ happiness, what else is there to strive for?

The key is to become addicted to the process. To fall in love with the process.

If our goal is for saving money – our process could be hunting for the next bargain in the trading post; as opposed to buying brand new. And falling in love with this activity – ala Steve and Darryl in the Castle. We all know the person who goes coupon hunting in the local newspaper, proclaiming with excitement that they can get 25% off their grocery bill. Or taking pride in how a meal at home can create a better experience than the fancy restaurant.

If our goal is for physical fitness; we need to find a way to fall in love with our weekly exercise routine. This could be surrounding yourself with friends who share your goal; and making your exercise journey a social one concurrently. Or conversely, finding a ‘time out’ space away from the stresses of everyday life where you can simply focus on yourself.

When we fall in love with the process, committing to the system becomes easy. It is your commitment to the system that will determine your success. Suddenly, achieving your goal will become easy.

Furthermore, when we fall in love with the process, we stop ‘chasing’ more. We can take the time for ourselves to stop and cherish the moments we are currently in.



For those looking for more reading on this topic, I would highly recommend reading James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. Fantastic reading!

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