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Thursday, 11 August 2022

Weekend Reading


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How to decide what is the most important thing to work on?
Much of life boils down to figuring out a path for yourself and then getting yourself to actually walk it.
It’s easy to dismiss either half of the problem. If the path seems obvious, you might think everyone who fails to walk it is simply lazy. Or perhaps you can’t find the path, so it seems everyone walking forward is a delusional striver.
But both halves of the problem interact. We often fail to stick to our plans because we’re not confident in our chosen path. And we fail to find paths forward because we don’t try enough things to find our footing.
Decision and action are always combined. The challenge is taking the next step.
Know yourself
Investing, now more than ever, is about controlling the controllable. You can’t control the markets. You can’t control the coronavirus. You can control your own behavior, although that requires making accurate, honest predictions about yourself.
Controlling the controllable doesn’t just mean shrugging off whatever is out of your power. It also means putting some calm and serious thought into what is within your power. Your future success may depend less on what markets do—and more on spending a few quiet minutes figuring out who you are as an investor.
Will you be able to keep buying all the way down if the market goes down another 25%—or more? Will you even be able to hold on? Can you stand watching every dollar you had in stocks turn into 50 cents or less?
On the other hand, what if the panic subsides and stocks resume their climb—after you impulsively moved to the safety of cash and bonds that generate almost no income? How badly will you kick yourself over getting out of the market because of fears that didn’t fully materialize?
Let your mind wander
Losing oneself in one’s thoughts or letting the mind wander is an underrated activity that is more rewarding the more it is practised, an academic study has claimed.
Psychologists who studied a group of more than 250 people encouraged to engage in directionless contemplation or free-floating thinking said that the activity was far more satisfying than the participants had anticipated.
They also revealed that – as previous studies have demonstrated – losing yourself in your thoughts can aid problem solving, increase creativity, enhance the imagination and contribute to a sense of self-worth.
Despite this, most people are more likely to let themselves be distracted than to delve into their own thoughts or just stare out the window. Smartphones have inevitably made it easier to seek and find distraction and have contributed to a loss of the habit of free thinking.
The influencer's dilemma
Audience capture is an irresistible force in the world of influencing, because it’s not just a conscious process but also an unconscious one. While it may ostensibly appear to be a simple case of influencers making a business decision to create more of the content they believe audiences want, and then being incentivized by engagement numbers to remain in this niche forever, it’s actually deeper than that. It involves the gradual and unwitting replacement of a person’s identity with one custom-made for the audience.
When influencers are analyzing audience feedback, they often find that their more outlandish behavior receives the most attention and approval, which leads them to recalibrate their personalities according to far more extreme social cues than those they’d receive in real life. In doing this they exaggerate the more idiosyncratic facets of their personalities, becoming crude caricatures of themselves.
Don't be afraid of failure, just get started
Inspiration, the admixture of genius and motivation, is sometimes described as a force that strikes us after some patient lull or waiting period. This idleness is a mistake. The Muse arrives to us most readily during creation, not before. Homer and Hesiod invoke the Muses not while wondering what to compose, but as they begin to sing. If we are going to call upon inspiration to guide us through, we have to first begin the work.
Failure is something you want to tempt. You should court it the way the bullfighter courts the bull. When I wish to learn something, I begin with this in mind. A meaningful first project should have sufficient difficulty that there is some real chance of failure. It is in approaching the edges of our abilities that we are really learning, and often simple projects feel more like delaying things, including delaying mastery. A chance of failure ensures your hands are firmly touching reality, and not endlessly flipping through the textbook, or forever flirting only with ideas.

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