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Epsilon cost: How small things add up (and not always in the right direction!)

Henry Ford once famously said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”  It’s a powerful statement that reminds us to work hard and stay focused on our goals. But for many of us, we end up saying we’re going to do something much more frequently than we actually do it.  And distractions have a big role to play in this.

Distractions are everywhere these days, but distractions alone won’t necessarily affect the trajectory of your future.  Updating your Facebook status, occasionally checking your Instragram account, or watching an episode of your favorite TV series won’t derail you from achieving your higher goals…

Until they do!  If analyzed in isolation, all of these activities are harmless, but when these isolated activities are compounded over time, they create patterns of behaviors that we should start worrying about.

The compounded effect of eating cookies and other high caloric and sugary foods is what, in the long-term, impacts our health (and weight).  The compounded effect of attention to social media is what distracts us from other more important activities. The compounded effect of hours spent watching TV shows is what robs us of valuable time to work on other projects...

This is called the “epsilon-cost effect.” In calculus, epsilon-cost is the term used to describe negligible quantities that when taken together end up making a substantial difference.  It should be noted that the small things that add up don’t have to be negative things like distractions; they of course can also be positive things like taking small steps of progress on a project which ends in completion and success.

Here’s a test: Take an inventory of the amount of time you spend on activities that are not advancing your higher goals. For instance, if you watch two episodes of your favorite TV series every day at 45 minutes each, that’s 1 ½ hours per day, which adds up to about 10 1/2 hours a week. Try this exercise for every activity. It’s almost certain you will be shocked by the number of hours spent per week in activities that add no value to your higher goals.

Now that you’ve taken inventory, could you apply some of this time to a personal project?  Imagine how much you could achieve!

Happy Achieving!

Oh, before I go... nothing better to focus your Dark Horse than some good 'ol Trance. Follow my playlist on Spotify: Name: Dark Horse Tamed; Link:

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