If You Want to See the Big Picture, Put Together the Pieces

Have you ever tried to put together a really big puzzle? I don’t mean big in size necessarily but big in the number of pieces it contains? I know it’s 2017 and most people don’t spend a lot of time sitting at the kitchen table doing puzzles, I haven’t done a puzzle (besides the little ones with my young kids) in a long time myself, but have you ever done one?

If you have, you know how challenging they can be, especially in the beginning. While some puzzles are relatively simple, those will very small pieces and very similar colours, can be incredibly difficult. It’s often not until we are halfway through the puzzle or more, before it really starts to take shape and we can visualize the end result. I guess that’s why puzzle makers put that picture of the finished puzzle on the front of the box so that we know what the thing is supposed to look like:)

Isn’t life a lot like that sometimes? Have you ever had a time in your life where you felt a little lost? Where you felt that you weren’t sure what the end result would look like, or even if you were putting “the puzzle” together properly?

All too often in life, despite being well-intentioned, having established goals, and being a hard-worker, we can get stuck in a place where we aren’t sure we are putting the pieces together properly and the end result is so far off in sight that we just can’t get a clear visual of what it looks like.

When we hit these points, it’s helpful to remember what a big difference consistent, daily, action can have on long-term goals. Long goals, and major results don’t happen all at once. They don’t happen in a few hours, a few days or in many cases, even a few years. They take a lot of time. The progress is slow and there are many hiccups, speedbumps and roadblocks along the way. Those who win in life, much like those who win at the challenge of putting a puzzle together, are those who continue to make small progress over time until they can reap the cumulative results.

Have you ever been taught the power of saving with this example? Save $0.01 on the first day and then double the amount every day after that. Does that make you wealthy? Well after 7 days you only have $0.64 – not very exciting.Even by the end of two weeks you only have $81.92. Not bad, but nothing to write home about. But by one week later, you’d have over $21,000 and seven days after that, you’d have  $1,342,177.28! You’d be a millionaire in less than a month!

Granted few of us could do this kind of saving, but that’s not really the point. The point is to realize the power of slow, steady, progress.

For example, let’s say you put $5000 in an investment earning 10% a year and you did that when you were 45yrs old. By the time you were ready to retire at 65, your $5000 would have become $33,637. Not bad. But, if you’d made the same $5000 investment and started instead when you were 25 instead of 45, that same $5000 would have grown to over $226,000! That’s an incredible difference in results for a relatively small difference in effort (you simply started a lot sooner). That’s the power of small, consistent effort over time.

So what’s the lesson. Get started today! Make small, consistent, progress each and every day. Don’t get discouraged when you don’t see much in terms of results initially. In the investment example, you’d only have $5500 after your first year. Just stay with the program, keep making those small investments (whether they come in the form of money, effort, time or all three) and down the road, the puzzle you’ve assembled will be something you can very proud of.