James Clear

James Clear quotes on compounding

Author of the #1 NYT bestseller Atomic Habits. I write about building better habits.

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A paradox of life is that the greatest returns come in the long-term, but the opportunity cost of moving slowly is huge. Long-term thinking is not slow acting. Act fast on things that compound. Never let a day pass without doing something that will benefit you in a decade.


Knowledge is the compound interest of curiosity.


Wealth is a game that compounds. Health is a game that plateaus (and then declines). As we age, we should spend more time staying fit and less time making money. Increasingly, working to ward off the effects of aging and allowing the effects of compounding take over.


Before something can compound, it must be sustained. This includes: -Money compounding in your portfolio -Productivity compounding in your organization -Love compounding in your relationships ...and more. In the long-run, the sustainable way is the fast way.


A good choice may go unrewarded for a long time. The best choices tend to provide exponential returns and a hallmark of any compounding process is that the greatest rewards are delayed. Things don't really take off until years later. Keep working. Be patient.


Getting a PhD is far more expensive than I initially realized. The true cost of a PhD is not merely the cost of school. You lose nearly a decade of earnings during the exact period when your savings would compound the most. Even if you get a full ride, it might not be worth it.


Small habits don't add up, they compound. You don't need to be twice as good to get twice the results. You just need to be slightly better.


The benefits of therapy compound. It takes six months just to establish context. It takes a year (...or two ... or five) until, suddenly, a breakthrough insight reframes your past or alters your worldview. It's like any compounding process: The greatest returns are delayed.


Time will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.


Here's a mind trick I've started to play with money: I calculate how much my current purchases are costing my future self. (I use 7% interest.) Spend $100 today? I'm taking... $350 from myself in 20 years. $1,000 from myself in 35 years. $3,000 from myself in 50 years.


Billionaire investor Seth Klarman on small, but consistent growth: "The effects of compounding even moderate returns over many years are compelling, if not downright mind-boggling." The same could be said of our habits. Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.

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