Eli5: Can habits compound into a breakthrough moment of success?


Take exercising for instance, I heard that when you first start exercising, you won’t really see results until six months afterwards. Could it be seen as a stockpile of those workout habits storing up for a six month period, for it then to all be released afterwards, as if it were an overnight success? Or does it really not matter unless you keep training past those six months? That is to say, is this habit stockpile a myth that doesn’t really work?

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There is no stockpiling effect of working out or forming a habit. You are effected from the very beginning, but change is slow and gradual. Your first workout does matter, any amount matters, but you might not notice the difference before 6 months. I would also say that that number is very individual. You may notice changes in stamina, strength and even physique in the very first month if you train often.
When speaking of practicing a skill however, you typically have a transition from conscious, deliberate, focused actions, to more automatic, dynamic compounded actions, which might seem to happen more suddenly after a period. Think about when learning to read, you go from putting together each letter to form a word, to interpreting the whole word or several words at the same time.