“It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested.” – Lucias Seneca On the Shortness of Life
On The Shortness of Life is a very motivating essay by Lucias Seneca. If you have any dreams or goals, it is worth a read. It explores the ways people waste so much of our time on meaningless pursuits, which stands as true now as it did when it was written in AD 49. A short 4 minute version is available here posted by Tim Ferris.
The question following from this, is what is it that you want to do with the time that you have? And why? Working out what you want to do is the first step, but taking the time to understand the reasons behind will move you emotionally as Tony Robbins says “If you’ve got a strong enough reason and a strong enough purpose, you will figure out how to pull it off”. This is true of most things and especially of writing which I have done regularly throughout my formal education, always found to be find it quite a struggle, and think it will be very difficult to do it regularly.
Below are a couple of concepts that are useful to understand
“We first make our habits, then our habits make us.”― John Dryden
We are all creatures of habit, habits are the foundation of who we are and what we do. The ability to identify bad habits and replace them with positive ones is key to making a change and improving our lives.
How do you create a new habit? Perform the same action repeatedly until it becomes a habit. It is commonly stated that that it can take 21-30 days to make something a habit. At one of these points it becomes much easier and automatic to perform. A good book on habits is Superhuman by Habit.
Compound interest is a finance term which shows how the value of your investment increases over time as you receive interest on your interest. The positive effects of creating a, compounded a long period of time.
The power of Compound interest is huge, this article on shows how a $5000 investment at 8% for 45 years will equal in $160,000, and annual payments of $5000 will equal $1.93 Million after 45 years.
The same principle applies to habits, which will have a compounding effect on yourself, as Warren Buffet says. Taking the example of reading, building up the knowledge will make you smarter, and will compound over time making you exponentially smarter than the next person who doesn’t read.
So why am I writing?
The reasons for my starting to write all come down to growth, in the areas below:
- Improve The Quality and Clarity of Thought
Writing is a great way to improve the clarity and quality of thinking. Since it is only possible to hold one train of thought at one time, putting a collection of thoughts down on paper allows you to look at it objectively, forces you to sharpen your arguments and allows you to see the weaknesses in them. A study as written in the The Atlantic shows how a school in New York greatly improved students overall performance by focusing on improving students writing skills. The benefits to improved thinking are huge, clarity of thinking enables focus, helps you to make smarter decisions, improve your life.
- Improve Writing
It makes sense that the more practice you have writing the better you are able to write. Writing emails doesn’t count, to improve you need to stretch yourself. The written word is the foundation of our communication. Developing writing as a skill is key for communication for marketing, ability to pass on information, developing better arguments enables you to have more influence, save time, and add more value. And if writing is so important that we should dedicate a majority of our education to it, why should we stop improving after graduation of University? If it is a worthy skill, we should continue to learn and improve how to do it all our lives. As with compound interest, those who continue to improve will be far ahead of those who don’t.
- Learning – Increase Knowledge
Writing an article with your name on it, it forces you to write something good. As you formulate your ideas you need to read around the topic. Reading greatly improves your knowledge in the topic, helps to find weaknesses in your arguments, and other angles to consider. Improving your knowledge in your area of expertise is hugely valuable for understanding your business area and help to make better decisions. Benefits of reading also helps to improve writing skills as you can learn from others.
- Release Ideas
As a person with a lot of ideas, business and otherwise, I have started keeping a record of them for a while. It makes sense to get some of them down on paper. Putting them down on paper is a way to forget about them and move forward and focus on what is important, knowing that I can come back to them in the future. Putting them online serves another purpose. As it has my name on it, it forces me to improve and develop them rather than leaving them in draft form, with the added benefits mentioned in earlier points. It also seems a waste to keep them private and not let them out so they can develop and be useful for others. I realise it can be of value to others. I came to this conclusion after hearing a motivational quote similar to below:
The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry our their dream.” Les Brown
- Become an Expert in Your Subject
Learning more about your chosen subject and writing about it can lead to greater understanding on that topic which is also publicly searchable online. This can attract those who are also looking to learn more about that topic, attract people and opportunities.
There are also a number of positive spillover benefits to creating the habit of writing. Building any positive habit will strengthen your ability to build other positive habits and have greater control over yourself. Allocating some focused time on writing an article without any distractions is something that I haven’t done for a while, and seems a good challenge with the modern multi-tasking internet, phone, and article in the Telegraph looks at How the internet is making us stupid. It seems that it could help to counter this, improve my focus and concentration when it comes to other tasks.
After writing an article and intellectually understanding the many positive effects of writing, many people find that it is difficult to follow through, with everyday life and business getting in the way. Another difficulty is, as Shlomo of Startup Noodle says, there is no obvious benefit from writing, most of the positive effects are long term. It is very easy to write one article and then not follow up in the future. There are many projects and blogs that have started with a great intentions only to fade out as they lost interest as the initial motivation wears off. The answer to this should be make writing into a habit and as with any habit, the most difficult stage is the beginning.