The Rule of 72
by Patrick G Howard
The June Focus of the Month is the sixth of the twelve-part series – Making 2019 Your Best Year Yet: Realizing God’s Plan for You. You can read the other parts of the series here:
• January: Do a New Thing (Isaiah 43:19) -> LINK
• February: Begin with the End in Mind (Genesis 1:1) -> LINK
• March: Creating Intrepid Steps (Proverbs 3:5-6) -> LINK
• April: Your Story is Written (Psalm 139:16) -> LINK
• May: God Can Use the Small Things, Too (John 6:9) -> LINK
We started this year by talking about doing big things, but we shifted our focus last month to doing small things. This month we will continue to focus on how doing small things can lead to big results.
It’s human nature to want to do big things.
It is human nature to want our efforts to be meaningful. It is also human nature to be intimidated when faced with doing something big, which is why there is a high demand for skilled project managers. Think about the example we used in March – President Kennedy’s challenge to place a man on the moon and return him safely within a decade.
To say that was a daunting challenge is an understatement. Remember, when Kennedy made this bold challenge, we hadn’t even completed an orbit around this planet yet. Walking on a land that was not Earth seemed like an almost impossible task; but the thousands of men and women at NASA developed a plan, broke that plan down into millions of small steps, and through great adversity, worked their way through each them with purpose and resolve.
This reminds me of James’ exhortation to the Jewish Christians scattered throughout the Roman world. Our focus this month comes from the book of James.
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.James 1:12
Imagine the trials the early Christians endured.
Compared to them, we have it pretty easy. While we may be mocked and ridiculed for our Christian faith today, in James’ day you were tortured and killed for your beliefs. In his letter, James was encouraging Christ’s followers to keep their eye on the prize and work through their difficulties. Granted, the prize that James was talking about was eternal salvation; but the principal is the same for our earthly daily lives. And it doesn’t take nearly as much effort.
How much effort would it take to become a better person each day? Surprisingly, it isn’t as difficult as it seems if you take the NASA approach – set a goal and take small steps toward that goal every day.
Give .1% every day!
Could you give an extra .1% effort every day to accomplish your goal?
That seems like a ridiculously tiny amount of effort, doesn’t it? You may wonder how such a small effort could possibly lead to something big. To answer, let me take a page out of the financial planner’s book and use the example of compound interest and the Rule of 72.
For the non-financial among us, the Rule of 72 is a simple way of determining how long it will take to double your investment. You simply divide 72 by the periodic interest rate, and that is how long it will take to double your money.
Let’s say you start with $100 and add .1% to your balance every day. You would only build your balance a few pennies each day, but at the end of two years you would have $200. And if you continued your saving habit, you would have $400 after four years … $800 after six years … $1600 after eight years … and so on. You would double your money every two years.
It is incredible how such a small contribution, when done systematically, can result in something so big. By now you are probably thinking that the Rule of 72 works well for money, but not so much for human capital. I suppose that’s true, but just imagine how much better you can be if you exert a tiny amount of effort and do just one small thing every day.
What can you do today?
Surely there is one little thing you can do today to help you become a better person tomorrow. Perhaps you could resolve to:
• Learn a new skill. Open that computer program and spend a few minutes doing something that you don’t currently know how to do.
• Improve your musical skills. Spend a few minutes doing those boring exercises that you hate doing.
• Be a better employer. Find an opportunity to one extra positive thing each day for your employees.
• Be a better husband or wife. Do one extra nice thing each day for the most special person in your life.
• Cultivate your network. Find a person in your contacts every day that you haven’t spoken to in a while and give them a call.
These are just some examples of things you can do, and I’m sure you could come up with hundreds more. The trick is to pick that one thing and do it every day. Realize that you may not become twice the person you already are (after all you’re already pretty doggone good right now); but if you do that one thing on a consistent basis, you will become better every day.
My challenge to you this month is to find that one thing that you can do every day for the next month, and do it. I think you will find that if you do that one thing for a month, it will become a permanent habit and you will be choosing another thing to add to it next month.
As you do, remember our focus this month. Realize that there will be challenges to completing your “one thing” every day but remain steadfast under trial. And know that we’re all going to receive the prize at the end, but we might as well become better people while we’re waiting here on Earth.