The Analogy of Compound Interest
People often use the analogy of compound interest to illustrate the impact of incremental improvements. If you improve by just 1% every day, just think of where you’d be in a year.
By the same token, what if you improved by just 2%? No need to be so unambitious after all…
Then again, it’s important to remember it’s just an analogy. It’s not math. It’s not realistic.
Imagine how this would work when learning a new language. If you only knew 100 words and planned to learn 1% more each day, you’d be learning 30 a day and then more in your last month. Reasonable enough. But at 2% more a day, you’d be learning some 2,000 words a day by the end of the year.
Now think about personal productivity. If you worked 1 hour a day at the start of a year and improved that by 1% each day, you’d be working more than a 24-hour a day within 10 months.
Or if you started off lifting 100 pounds daily, you’d be well on your way to 2 tons daily by the end of the year. Wouldn’t you?
Exponential growth eventually bumps into resource constraints. Always.
But I still keep the analogy in mind. When I tweak a habit, learn something, refine my process, hone my intentions, I still like to tell myself “that’s my 2% for today.”