The Simple Math of Achievement


Can you spare 5 minutes a day?

Today this is all I ask you to do—give yourself 5 minutes to do something you’ve been meaning to do for some time.

What would happen if you took 5 minutes starting today and did this one thing?

Here is the simple formula:

5 minutes x 5 days x 50 weeks = 21 hours

  • If you spend five minutes every day,
  • for 5 days a week (assuming you’re taking two days off),
  • for 50 weeks a year (assuming you’re taking two weeks off) ,
  • you will dedicate 21 hours to this one thing that is meaningful to you.

You might say there is nothing I can do in five minutes. The things I want to do take much longer than that.

Think of the 5 minutes as your starting point. Here are examples of what you can do in this short period of time:

  • Read an article or a few pages in a book
  • Go for a brisk walk
  • Relax, meditate or practice stillness
  • Take a photograph or two
  • Play a musical instrument
  • Brainstorm a few ideas for a writing project
  • Write
  • Learn a few words in a foreign language
  • Practice a dance move
  • Learn how to use a new software
  • Work on your finances
  • Plan for your retirement
  • Plan for your next vacation
  • Paint or draw
  • Clear some clutter in your home or office

Why it works

The five minutes formula works best in making sustainable change. Here is why.

It’s simple. Because you focus on one small action, you are more likely to do it.

It’s doable. Five minutes a day doesn’t require a lot of planning and prioritizing; you can easily spare 5 minutes of your day.

It’s something. When you start with 5 minutes, you avoid the trap of all or nothing. You embrace the mantra of something is better than nothing. You support your desires instead of laying more roadblocks in your way and sabotaging your progress.

It’s resistance proof. You will be able to do your five minutes before your subconscious mind has a chance to resist and come up with excuses why you shouldn’t do it.

It’s momentum friendly. If you do something consistently over time, you will build momentum—making your action more effortless and powerful.

How to start

This simple formula requires a few steps and then you’re on your way.

Determine the one thing. Make a decision as to what you want to do and set your intention.

Imagine the outcome. How would it feel to do this one thing? What would you ultimately get out of doing it? Do you feel excited? Is it going to give you results that are meaningful to you? Let your heart speak to you and the rest will take care of itself.

Start today. Don’t turn it into a commitment or a promise; just get up and do it.

The magic of compounding

Another objection might be 5 minutes is not enough to master a new skill. It takes a considerable amount of time to make progress.

While 5 minutes may not be enough, it’s better than spending no time at all. Think of the formula above compounding over time.

Five minutes of consistent action compound your progress, just like interest compounds on your investments over time.

If you continue to spend five minutes a day, you will get better at whatever you’re doing—it’s inevitable. You will also feel better. And when you feel better, you will become more motivated to keep going, to grow and accomplish what you desire.

Over time, the five minutes can turn into 10 and then 20 and then 30. Who knows where it will take you.

Think of it this way:

5 minutes over time—> improvement—> feeling good—> motivation—>more improvement—>growth—>meaningful achievement

The most meaningful achievements come from small steps taken consistently.

Try it today; give yourself 5 minutes to do one thing and do it again tomorrow and the day after and see what happens.

For more information about action and sustaining change check out these articles.

The Top 3 Reasons We Succeed or Not in Sustaining Change

The Next Thing: A Simple Approach to Action and Getting Things Done