A Spoonful of Sugar: Why Little Things Matter

When I was a kid, studies came out that suggested that the artificial sweetener saccharin was a possible carcinogen. It was just what the sugar industry needed to launch an extensive advertising campaign aimed at winning back those customers who had abandoned sugar for the stuff in the little pink packages.

“A teaspoon of sugar has just 16 calories” the advertisements cried.

Hmmm, 16 calories. That doesn’t sound like a lot. And standing alone, it’s not.

But my mother, a professional dancer for whom weight was important -- like, really important -- and who liked a teaspoon or two of sugar in her morning coffee, did the math. 16 calories a teaspoon, one-and-a-half teaspoons a day, 365 days a year. 8,760 calories a year which, assuming a pound is about 3,500 calories, would be two-and-a-half pounds. If she gave up sugar in her morning coffee, she’d lose 2.5 pounds. And because how we fix our morning coffee tends to be something we do the same way for a long, long time, if she gave up sugar in her coffee, in ten years, that would be 25 pounds.

Now weight loss is far more complicated than that and this post is not about the evils of sugar. It is about the absolute reality that small things, done consistently over time, add up to big impact.

Here’s another. According to Richard Bach, author of Smart Women Finish Rich, if you save $10/day for forty years, you will have over $1,800,000. And let’s face it, most of us could find a way to save at least $5 a day (fancy coffee anyone?).

And another.

Reading just five pages of a book each day (part of my morning routine), I have managed to read 28 books over the past three years on a variety of subjects that have inspired and educated me.

The little things add up. So do me a favor. Give up your hope for an instant fix or magic bullet. Believe in your future, invest in it with all of the small things that really do matter, and commit to playing the long game.