Discipline of Incremental Growth

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Do you know how many people really “get rich quick?”

A few lucky people every year win the lottery. One slip of paper with the perfect selection of numbers led to a financial windfall and life-chaning funds that could last generations…could.

Sadly, almost 70% of people who come into a lump sum of money (including lottery winners) ended up broke in seven years according to Yahoo Finance.

Seven years!!!  How can that be?

Lets look at a different angle. How about the person so determined to lose a ton of weight that they starve themselves and crash down 40-50 lbs in a very short amount of time. Inevitably what happens next? The weight comes back, sometimes in greater force. The person is left defeated in their failed attempt.


It happens because there is zero behavior inline to manage the immediate abundance in the lottery example. Zero behavior in place to continue on a healthy path to keep the weight off. None of this means I don’t want you to be rich or lose a substantial amount of weight.  It means there is a piece we’re lacking in this: free one day shipping, :60 second meal, six-minute abs, speed dating world.


I recently read and shared a terrific book called, “The Slight Edge” and shared it on my Keen Mind Facebook Page. You can download your copy of the book here. I highly encourage you to read it.

Without giving it all away, “The Slight Edge” focuses on, you guessed it, discipline and consistent (albeit small at times) improvement. I believe the author states best, “easy to do, easy not to do” daily activities magnified over time for large gains.

The challenge with this is most of us have zero patience for “small” or “consistent” improvement. We want to get it ALL and we want it NOW. But once again, this rarely EVER happens. Ever! We all want 0—>100 real quick!

How could this impact your retirement?

Ask a wise financial advisor, “What is the #1 reason most people never reach their retirement goal?” Answer: They started too late. It’s not that they didn’t make enough money, which you would think would be a prime factor. It is, but after a short while the dollars invested can’t replace time.

Why is this important? Because the slow and incremental growth of the stock market has proven to yield large returns but only after the first 15-20+ years of investment. Take away the first 20 years of saving discipline and what do you have? A job in your seventies to pay the bills, that’s what. Happy retirement 😉

I’m fighting this now personally with fitness. I’m working to get back into what I consider really good shape. I used to be able to dunk a basketball, run miles, or do endless pushups and pull-ups. Sadly, I lost the discipline and focus on the incremental the last couple years. Now I’m getting back on the horse to achieve these goals again, but its going to take patience, discipline, focused and continued energy, and incremental growth. And pain, so far, pain.

Think about this…In either case, my discipline won.

My discipline won. Really think about it. You’re either disciplined to achieve a goal, or disciplined to NOT achieve it with inactivity.  Feels kind of different when put this way doesn’t it? When I think about being disciplined with inactivity toward a target I get pretty fired up to get moving immediately.

Many small actions, compounded over time, yielding tremendous results.

ACTION ITEM: Focus on the long game. The benefit in adopting the behavior and creating the habit will yield the truly lasting benefits of not only the desired outcome, but the MASSIVE incremental benefits of the work being done over time in pursuit of your achievement.

Every SEAL started with just one push-up

Mark Devine: SEAL FIT