Book Review: The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

Jackie Bedard
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The following is an article from the September 2017 issue of "Get Your Ducks in a Row" Carolina Family Estate Planning's free newsletter. You can read the rest of the issue, as well as back issues of our newsletter online at www.carolinafep.com/library/newsletters/ or subscribe for free at www.carolinafep.com/newsletter.cfm

I know a lot of people associate goal-setting with the beginning of the year and New Year’s resolutions, but we all hopefully realize that you can start new goals at any time. I’m a big fan of goal-setting, and while I work on various goals year-round, I’ve always enjoyed kicking off new goals around September. There’s something about the wind-down of summer and back-to-school that leads to a “it’s time to get serious again” mindset.

I recently read The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. While I wasn’t altogether surprised by the information, itself, that Olson presents, I am intrigued by his philosophy on success and personal development. With the advance of technology, we have come to expect immediate results and instant gratification. The Slight Edge is a reminder that there is no magic button in life; astounding results most often stem from the cultivation of small, daily habits.

The book uses the analogy of compound interest to explain how small changes can produce big results over time. For example, assume you were to invest a small amount of money in a bank account, and it earns a tiny percentage of interest, compounded daily. If you look at the account balance from one day to the next, the gain appears to be insignificant. The gain might be so nominal that you find yourself discouraged from continuing to add more to your savings. However, if you consider the cumulative effect of growth over time, the power of compound interest prevails: over time, your bank balance grows significantly.

The author posits that you should think of every small daily decision as yielding a future positive result that will give you a slight edge—an edge will move you every so slightly toward your goal (or, alternatively, a slight negative result that moves you gradually away from your goal). At any given time, that small decision may seem so inconsequential that you could easily brush it off. But small decisions cultivate into habits, which in turn either lead to long-term success or long-term failure.

For example, if you’re on a quest to drop a few pounds, skipping your workout one day, or opting for the hamburger over the salad that one time, might not seem like it will have huge consequences for your weight loss goal. But those little decisions compound over time, and hold you back from achieving your goal.

Mr. Olson then goes on to show how this principle can be applied to all aspects of life including health, happiness, relationships, personal development, finances, and career.

In our office, we’re launching the CFEP Personal Development book club with our team. This is the book we’re going to start with. If you’ve been contemplating setting some new goals, pick up a copy of The Slight Edge to get some perspective on how even modest action, repeated regularly, can yield massive results.

 

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