Goals and Success habits

The power of small steps

Photo by Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash

You will be surprised how the small seemingly insignificant actions that you do each day can reinvent your future self. Aside from the psychological changes and mental shift that you can do, you can also achieve it through learning a new skill.

This is how you can use the “Compounding effect” to create a new you, through learning of a new skill. I realized this one when I decided to learn how to play piano.

Last October 2020, I decided to learn how to play the piano. (My housemate and I already bought the piano a few months before but it was just sitting at the corner of our house for more than a month.) Despite the busy schedule with my work, as I am working as an accountant for more than 8 hours each day, I decided to allot at least 10-15 minutes each day to learn it (sometimes it is not the actual playing of keyboard but more of just watching how to play the piano while seating at the piano chair).

At first, I just tried watching the “How to’s” videos in Youtube but I noticed that it somewhat bores me as the days pass by. I felt like the motivation gradually decline as I mindlessly try to learn many songs but only their its rhythm and/or chorus.

I believe this is common with everyone, the motivation is always at its peak at the beginning, when we decided to do something different or learn something new, and then it gradually declines until we decided to just STOP doing it.

When I noticed this, I decided to change something, and that’s where the magic of compounding effect happens.


I decided to create a habit stack in my journey of learning how to play the piano. Habit stacking is basically creating a habit by linking your new habit with an existing one. Check it here if you wanted to learn more about this.

In this case, I have added this task of learning to play the piano before going to bed and before going to the office. I didn’t set the time limit, I just sit at the chair and play the piano until I feel not playing anymore. This is how my habit stack looks like:

Dress up for work -> Sit at the piano chair -> Play piano

Right after I dress up and while waiting for my housemate (as we are sharing the car working on the same company), that’s the time I learn how to play it.

After I put my bag and things off -> Sit at the piano chair -> Play piano

This is what I did right after I went back to our house from work. Again I don’t set any time as it puts so much pressure for me if I will set a limit for it.

These allow me to somewhat automate the process of “I need to play the keyboard/piano” and instead of forcing myself and dragging myself towards the piano and do it.

You might be thinking that I just spent 10-15 minutes each day but in reality since the initial part, which is sitting at the piano chair, is already somewhat automated I sometimes spent hours each night as I get lost of the time since I am enjoying it.

I believe the systems works well since it eliminates the biggest hurdle of every skill building, which is CONSISTENCY. The idea of learning a new skill doesn’t give so much pressure on me as I was able to slowly create a habit and anchored it with daily routine allowing it be somewhat automated.


I think this is what we mostly forgot, our motivation declines as we passed the peak of our interest to learn something new. Without the clarity on “Why” and “What” of doing something, drains everything including your willpower and motivation to do it.

I have broken these down on how these significantly push me.

a) The “Why” of what you are doing

I know just saying to myself that “I need to learn how to play the piano” does not really pushes me, this doesn’t really motivates me and it is totally vague.

I tried digging deeper within my inner thoughts and realized that for me learning how to play an instrument means that I can prove to myself that I can do anything and I am worthy.

This gives me a different level of “why”, an impelling reason why I am doing things, it is not just to impress anyone (which can sometimes be the case, but it is not sustainable in the long run) or just a bandwagon trying to do stuff based on what the crowd was doing.

Knowing my “Why” gives me the motivation to keep continuing even though the progress at first is not visible, it gives me the patience to push little by little until I was able to play piano.

This is what we normally forgot to consider, we don’t know why we wanted to do things that this just left us doing things half-heartedly and eventually leading to just not doing it at all.

b) The “What” of what you are doing

The “What” of what you are doing means, you are laser focus on which specific stuff you are doing. You don’t just press the piano keys and try to learn a portion of songs. You have specified what do you want to achieve from it.

In my case, I decided to first learn how to play Fur Elise by Beethoven. Not just the chorus or introduction but the whole part! It was daunting and a pain in the ass trying to learn something complex when you just started learning how to play piano.

Each keys took me a lot of time to understand and pick up. Each keys needs extra patience of understanding how it is being played in Youtube (I am using Youtube to see how each part is being played, not to mention that you have to study the movement for both the left and right hand for each second in the video).

Knowing my “What” allows me to focus on one item on hand. Instead of overwhelming myself with so much stuff to learn about piano. Remember learning a skill is a process, it will surely take some time and there will surely be a phase that you will be overwhelmed since you are just starting but you have to eliminate these and shut off the noise in your head (that you can’t do it or it is too difficult for you) and focus on one single item, in order for you to accomplish something.


Fast forward in 2021, after doing what I did in the previous months since when I just decided to learn how to play piano, you might be thinking if I am already an expert or can play tons of piano piece. I am telling you that wasn’t the case! I already know the whole Fur Elise but still needs a lot of practice to be able to play it in public. Lol.

But everything was all worth it! Looking back from someone who doesn’t know anything about piano to someone who just created a worthwhile hobby means a lot. For me it was an accomplishment and a great sense of unlocking a different possibilities and potential for myself.

I always believe that we can learn anything, if we just give it a try and not limit ourselves. We can recreate ourselves, through learning a new skills and hobby, we just have to be patient and create a proper system and habit around it.

And this is how I believe you can take advantage of “Compound effect” towards creating a new version of yourself.

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