Breaking Bad Habits: Small Life Changes Equal Big Results

By Agnes Masnik, Freelance Writer for REALTOR® Magazine

For real estate professionals, the bottom line is business. While some people become complacent in their job, others seek opportunities to create more business prospects.

To avoid complacency, think of one personal life change to focus on. It could be attending a networking event each month,  brushing up on social media and technology-based marketing tools, or cracking open that book you have been meaning to read.

Making a small, imperceptible life change can be the secret to achieving your personal goal, says Darren Hardy, publisher and editorial director of SUCCESS Magazine.

In his new book, The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success (Vanguard Press; November 2011), Hardy reveals why small, consistent changes and smart choices on a daily basis can equal big rewards in the future.

With 17 years experience studying personal development and achievement, Hardy covers many of life’s bases and he helps readers explore options for creating good business habits, a healthier lifestyle, and a more fulfilling personal life. This book is not real estate specific, but it does capture the essence of Hardy’s passion for success.

Hardy got into real estate when he was 20 years old.  He remembers entering an office of 44 veteran agents with thick Rolodexes full of clients.  During a meeting, one of them even called him “a naive snot nosed kid.”  That encounter, he says, was a turning point in his career.  Three months later, he was outselling the entire office.

What made Hardy different? He practiced the Pareto Principle (named after Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto), also known as the 80-20 rule. When applying the principle to real estate, agents spend 80 percent of their time performing busy with unproductive activities and 20 percent of their time on tasks directly relating to making money, Hardy explains.  “It is shocking to realize how little time sales people actually spend on selling each day,” he says.

So he started to time himself. At first, after an exhausting 12-hour day, he was floored to find out that he only spend 11 minutes and 56 seconds on revenue generating labor. Learning a valuable lesson, he set a new goal of at least two hours daily of real sale productivity where he focused on pitching listings and negotiating contracts. The result? At age 21, he was the number one agent in his market. By 24, he was earning more than $1 million a year. By 27, he owned a $50 million-per-year business.

Hardy decided to write The Compound Effect to help people see the fundamentals of what it really takes to succeed. Through interviews with dozens of personal development experts, business leaders, and star athletes, Hardy found the same fundamental principles of success – five key points: choices, habits, momentum, influences, and acceleration.

“What is easy to do is also easy not to do.  The one thing successful people have in common with unsuccessful people is — they both hate to do what it takes to be successful.  The difference is successful people do it anyway,” he says.

Five Key Points to Harness The Compound Effect

1.  Choices:  Identify what you want to change in your life.
2.  Habits: Present specific strategies for eliminating bad habits.
3.  Momentum: Develop profitable and effective routines.
4.  Influence:  Sustain positive life influences.
5.  Acceleration: Actions that exponentially increase the impact of efforts.

He writes, “The Compound Effect is the operator’s manual that teaches you how to own the system, how to control it, master it, and shape it to your needs and desires.  Once you do, there is nothing you can’t obtain or achieve.”

Raised by his father, a former university football coach, Hardy credits his dad for being the first to instill the power of “The Compound Effect.”  At a young age he had Hardy on a daily routine of workouts, schoolwork, and household chores.  Hardy writes, “One of my father’s core philosophies was, ‘It doesn’t matter how smart you are or aren’t, you need to make up in hard work what you lack in experience, skill, intelligence or innate ability.’”

Hardy applies the five key points to all aspects of his life.  He says the best way to focus his energy is by giving to others.  Do the unexpected. For example, when everyone sends Christmas cards with generic messages, he sends Thanksgiving cards with hand written notes.

“If I want more success for myself, the fastest way to get it is to go about helping someone else obtain it,” he says.

For more information about the book, visit

Blog Contributor

This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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  1. Great article! I have to read this book!

  2. Jason, it is a terrific book by a wonderful person. A winner in every way! Great article. Thank you to Erica Christoffer for suggesting it!


  3. I have this book on audio cd and listen to it all the time in the car. It is a great book with simple advice (I’m buying more copies to give as Christmas gifts). I also since subscribed to SUCCESS magazine which Darren is the publisher of….for under $40 it’s probably the best magazine for helping you improve and grow month after month.

  4. Victoria Childs

    Great article; can’t wait to get the book!

  5. Pity it’s not available for iPad / Kindle otherwise I probably would of picked it up .

  6. Blog Contributor

    Hi Marta, “The Compound Effect” actually is available for Kindle and iPad via Amazon:

    -Erica Christoffer, REALTOR® Magazine

  7. I am glad I found this post. It is excellent and quite helpful information. Basically identifying the changes you want and need to make in your life is the first step. Next is developing the plans to put the bad habits behind you. Put your plans to meet your goals into action and follow through one step at a time. Always tell yourself one day at a time.