The Magic Penny


Let’s say that a billionaire came up to you and offered you a choice: $500,000 given to you today or the sum of a penny doubled every day for 31 days. Which would you choose? Half a million dollars today is undoubtedly tempting. However, if you do the math, you will realize that the meager penny doubled every day for one month is by far the better deal. 

Many of you may have heard of the magic penny. This is what happens to a penny if you double its value every day. At first glance, it doesn’t sound like it would amount to much. So let’s take a closer look. The first ten days would look like this: $0.01, $0.02, $0.04, $0.08, $0.16, $0.32, $0.64, $1.28, $2.56, $5.12. On day 10, all you would have is $5.12. On day 20, you would have $5,242. On day 25—$167,772. A nice chunk of change—but not filthy rich. And certainly nowhere close to that $500,000 that you could have had right up front. But then, on day 30—$5.37 million. And finally, on day 31—$10.74 million. Now you are a millionaire!

For me, the story of the magic penny holds two lessons. First, consistency is essential. To see results for any objective you have set for yourself, you must take action on a consistent basis. Consistency is critical when it comes to accomplishing goals. The second piece of wisdom I have gathered from this magical piece of copper and zinc is that, even with consistent action, it may take time to start seeing substantial results in the quest to reach your goal. As exemplified by the penny, there were barely significant results on day ten and only modest results on day 20. However, the final two days were when the real magic occurred. 

If you have set a worthwhile goal, be consistent in your efforts towards attaining it. Appreciate that you may only notice regular, yet small, steps of progress on your journey. By all means, enjoy the journey. Stay consistent, and know that the real magic may take some time to occur.