How do you spend your 1,000 minutes?
The power of tiny gains compounded.
Welcome 7 new Thinkers, we’re now 186 strong 💪
Good morning, this is Thinking Capital. A weekly mission for you to optimize your financial life. Today’s mission: creating new habits.
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Starting a new job is difficult. I’m three weeks into my new role and between an industry pivot from social media to crypto, as well as a function pivot from a revenue focus to an innovation focus, there’s so much to learn. It’s all very exciting, but it’s also a big shift of time and energy. You may have heard of the contractors trilemma:
A similar paradigm exists for the balance of our personal and professional lives. Each day presents 24 hours, and assuming we need 8 hours of sleep, we’re left with just under 1,000 minutes.
Once you’ve held a position for some time, you should be much more efficient in how you approach your day to day, leaving more of those 1,000 minutes to not only focus on yourself, but to also experiment with new approaches to your role, perhaps allowing further gains in productivity.
On the other hand, a net new position and/or pivots are far more taxing since you need to over-index as you establish background knowledge, learn foreign systems, meet a new team, and ultimately build new habits.
Today we’re focusing on habits, let’s start with a quote:
A slight change in your daily habits, can guide your life to a very different destination.
— James Clear
In Atomic Habits, James Clear starts with math — demonstrating the power of tiny recurring gains. If you compound a 1% gain daily, you’ll net a 37x gain over the course of a year. Let’s pause there for a second… making BIG changes can result from a one-time action, but it doesn’t have to. Instead, you’re more likely to make and maintain changes in your actions by easing into them and ramping up slowly.
It’s tempting to set ambitious goals, but goals are just outcomes. Instead you should create a new identity for yourself:
OUTCOME —> IDENTITY
I want to get in shape —> I am an athlete
I want to buy a rental property —> I am an investor
Does this concept sound familiar? Think of Mohammed Ali or Kanye West, they didn’t aspire towards a specific event, instead they wove being the greatest in their respective fields into their identity. Goals are binary, but an identity gives you a decision-making framework that extends into all areas of your life.
Having breakfast? —> What would an athlete eat?
Stay out late? —> How would an athlete sleep?
The trick here is to make your good habits as OBVIOUS, ATTRACTIVE, EASY & SATISFYING as possible and the opposite for your bad habits.
If habits can check these boxes, you can actually retrace the bounds of your own time management triangle. Shifting more time from repeated daily obligations towards moonshot bets that will get you closer to what you really want to achieve.
While I’m still trying to build new habits in my new role, I thought it would be helpful to look back and apply Clear’s framework to my journey into real estate investing:
Make it Obvious: Set a Cue
Technologically, there are a number of hacks you can employ. For instance, set new tabs in your browser to be a real estate platform with your specific search parameters, then download their app and place it on your home screen.
It’s also important to remind yourself of your why. What is driving you to become a real estate investor? For me, it has always been the prospect of self-reliance, and knowing that I can add value to other people’s lives while freeing my financial dependence from a 3rd party.
Make it Attractive: Create a Craving
Interweave something you already enjoy with the new habit you’re trying to form. Perhaps force yourself to focus on your new habit before you have your morning coffee or check your social media accounts.
Complete my daily habit —> enjoy morning coffee.
Make it Easy: Start Small
Remember, we only need a 1% gain daily, so make the task small and let it grown from there. Perhaps you start by simply analyzing one property per day. If you’re feeling it, you can always do more, but starting with an approachable goal will ensure you show up.
Just like our “Tenured Role” triangle, you’ll become more efficient at analyzing properties, reaching our to realtors, touring places and building the skills you need to eventually buy a place.
Make it Satisfying: Reward Yourself
On a daily basis, your reward may be coffee or checking socials, but consider more substantial rewards as you ramp up. You may want to consider using Jerry Seinfeld’s strategy of “not breaking the chain” in which you print a calendar and cross out each day you complete your new habit. The act of crossing out the date, becomes a reward in and of itself.
Over time, I’ve also rewarded myself by off-loading some of the tasks I don’t enjoy, like cleaning and painting, so I can double-down on what I love and what I’m good at.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to create or remove a habit from your life. Perhaps you want to start building an emergency savings, or learning about the stock market. Or maybe you want to stop consuming sugar, or keeping a balance on your credit card. Whatever it is, start small and focus on it daily.
While I usually love audiobooks, I wouldn’t listening to Atomic Habits since you may consume it too quickly. Instead, I would recommend:
Ordering it online or at your local library
Watching this incredible animated summary
Choosing one habit you’d like to start or stop
Reading only a few pages each day, ensuring the book lasts for a while as you form your new habit
Printing out a calendar of the month and hanging it on the back of your front door for the Seinfeld strategy
It’s Monday, come back to this when you’re done with work and watch the video.
What new habit do you want to start? Let me know and I’ll happily serve as your accountability buddy for weekly check-ins.