Atomic Habit - with tiny changes, come remarkable results

The Secret of Life is Compound Interest and not just in finance terms.

Reflection on my two weeks of watching YouTubers on productivity, creativity, writing and putting yourself out there.


Credits: James Clear (Twitter)

At 7:18 pm, I had an aha moment, except it’s not in the shower, where they usually happen and are instantly forgotten. I just finished my long team homework meeting for my iMBA program, but cannot stop thinking about the video I watched just prior to getting on the meeting.

The video is titled Building a Idea Factory with Ali Abdaal by David Perrell, an educator who teaches people how to write better through his program called “Write of Passage.” His guest, Ali Abdaal, is a rising Youtuber and productivity guru, who is also a junior doctor in the U.K. I had not finished the video because it is a long hour and a half video. However, Ali first touched on the idea of compound interest through a very well-known example, the legendary investor Warren Buffett.

Buffett started investing when he was 10 years old, and had a net worth of $1 million by the time he was 30 years old (an equivalent of $9.3 million inflation adjusted). He still invests today at age 90, and consistently has a return of 22%. By contrast, an average person might start investing at 30 years old with a net worth of $25,000 and stop investing at 60 years old. Assuming the same rate of return, the only difference between Buffett’s $84.5 billion net worth and an average person’s $11.5 million net worth is compound interest.

Now, this phenomenon starts me thinking on consistency and time; the first concept cannot exist without the second, which makes compound interest as quoted by Einstein “the eighth wonder of the world.” Ali talked about YouTube and his inspiration Marques Brownlee, showing Brownlee’s 100th video celebrating his 70th subscriber. In short, Brownlee, now one of the most followed and famed Youtuber, once made 100 videos to acquire only 70 subscribers. 

Compound interest works not only in investing, but also in any domains that has measurable metrics. It’s a phenomenon that comes with consistency and time.

In a way, it challenges my mind to think of all the time in one lifetime and what one chooses to do with it. Consistency is hard because it requires repetition, especially in the absence of motivation. Be it a small goal, a large goal, or an aspiration. Perhaps we all want to have a fulfilling life, meaningful work, and great memories with people we care about. But that’s all easy when we are inspired or without resistance.

What that video sparked in me is that everything we do with intention, however minute, boring or insignificant it is, making one thing 1% better pays off if we manage to do it consistently over days, months, and years. As James Clear perfectly put it in “Atomic Habit,” tiny changes produces remarkable results.

“Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero.”

So maybe next time, when I sit down to write my one blog post per week, I will be reminded that I can improve seven drafts for seven days of the week before I publish. And by the power of compound interest, my drafts will get better, and writing a post will feel less an insurmountable task by an imposter, and more like an authentic habit by a creator. 

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Senior Research Associate and MBA candidate. A life-long learner and observer of technological, health and social trends, and a part-time creative writer.

Journey to find my own BRAND
Journey to find my own BRAND

My name is Vic Danh. I am a molecular scientist, who have a passion for finance and economics. Naturally, I was curious of cryptocurrency and its potential. I'm going through an online MBA program, and about to move to SF to start a science career in a biotech startup. I would like to write regularly about my journey to process my thoughts, to find my brand, to share my knowledge and learn more through this community.

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