Commit to Yourself Over Time
I’m in Japan with friends and calculated the time zone change wrong. So it turns out as I’m writing these words How It Actually Works is due to be sent out in 3.5 hours.
A friend asked why I have to take time away to do this anyway. It’s not like anyone is relying on me – there’s no sponsors, I don’t have a boss or other external promises. Why not do it a few hours later instead of interrupting the middle of my day in Tokyo?
Because it’s more important to keep my self commitment. I told myself that I’m sending an email every Monday at 6am central time and so I do.
Almost all important goals happen like this. There’s rarely a true external reason to do anything, and no one’s gonna give you a deadline to achieve your dreams.
Consistency Over Time
Warren Buffett’s company has grown at a compounded rate of 20.9% per year every year since 1965.
And while 20.9% is a great annual return, achieving that a few times isn’t all that interesting.
What makes Buffett’s performance world class is that he’s done it year after year for 53 years. No single effort is particularly impressive, but taken as a whole he’s the greatest investor of our generation.
Consistency always trumps intensity.
If you’d told me to write a book I’d probably give up after a few thousand words. The task would be too great and I wouldn’t feel like I was making progress.
But if you told me to publish a few hundred words once a week and then just wait... I’d end up writing over 30,000 words without even realizing it.
You can’t write a book in a single 12-hour sitting even if it’s the most productive writing of your life. You can’t learn to play the piano with a week straight of practice. You can’t grow a deep & meaningful relationship with a few days together.
And as a bonus, the satisfaction of keeping commitments to yourself feels good regardless of the external outcome. If these newsletters never turn into anything else I can still feel good that I said I’d do something and then I did it.
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