(I learn a lot on the golf course. I chronicled some of those lessons in a previous blog: The Greatest Game Ever Played. I expect this to be Part 1 of an ongoing series as I draw more life lessons from my time on the course.)
I got up to the short par 4 #7, selected an iron off the tee, and proceeded to hit my shot down the right side of the fairway. I then approached my golf ball safely in the fairway, only to find that this fairway was overrun by invasive weeds everywhere (where I come from, we call it crab grass).
There was evidence that the greens keeper was fighting the weeds, but in this particular battle, he was losing. The weeds had overwhelmed the fairway to the point of no return. At this stage, the course is better off to tear up everything, replace the soil, and replant the natural fairway grass.
How does this happen? How does something get so far out of control? The answer on the golf course is simple: lack of routine upkeep. The lack of small investments over time. Skip a ground treatment here and there. Let a few patches of weeds run wild, think that you can take care of it another day. Then, BOOM, it is too late and the only option is a complete excavation of the turf. The sad thing is, the routine maintenance over time probably costs less than the project to redeem the turf. All of those delayed investments over time finally catch up resulting in disaster.
We see this in the real world as well. This principle is alive in our lives. The principle of compounding decisions. Consider compound interest in the world of finance and investing. Compounding is considered one of the most powerful forces in the investment world (if not the most powerful!). Small investments over time can grow to large sums. Small debts over time can grow to large sums as well. As you can see, this sword can cut both ways.
On the golf course, the poor maintenance compounded over time resulted in disaster. On great golf courses, great maintenance over time results in exceptional conditions.
The Compounding Formula
Decisions + Repetitions ^(t) = Results
(t = Units of time. Days, months, years etc)
The only components of compounding are your decisions and the consistent repetition of those decisions over time.
The principle can be applied positively or negatively, working for us or against us.
How do we ensure this principle works for us?
- Prioritize and Plan
- Nobody plans to fail. But failing to plan is tantamount to planning to fail. You have to intentionally decide what is most important and build from there. Prioritize. We would be wise to heed this advice: “You do not prioritize your schedule, you schedule your priorities.”
- What does this look like practically? In relationships, it means dedicating consistent quality time to the relationships that are most important to you.
- In health, it means scheduling and following through with exercise and other healthy habits.
- In your finances, it means establishing (and actually following!!) a budget.
- Count the Costs
- What would it cost you to skip a workout? Miss an important event with a loved one? Spend a little beyond your budget?
- Well, the answer in the short term is… probably nothing. One instance is not going to set you back. If you miss a workout, you are probably not going to the hospital the next day for heart disease. Miss an event with a loved one and they will probably understand. Charge a little extra on the credit card and you can probably get by.
- However, this is what lulls us into a false sense of security. The consequences of missing one instance are not immediately apparent so it makes it easy to skip more.
- This is not how the principle works though is it? Missing one instance can begin to compound… against you. Then all of the sudden… decades of poor decisions may result in catastrophe in a key area of your life.
- The cost to you in the end may end up being so much more than the tiny cost of each instance over time. And just like the golf course fairway overrun with crab grass, you may find yourself in a position where a complete excavation of the turf is your only option.
- Consider the Future
- Just think if you decided to leverage this principle now, what that could mean for your future.
- In relationships, it could mean a thriving marriage and a healthy family.
- In health it could mean more energy, avoidance of preventable diseases, and a higher quality of life.
- In finances, it could mean financial freedom and the ability to bless others in need.
I encourage you to take some time and evaluate what decisions you are making repeatedly over time.
The compounding formula is real, make sure it is working for you.