Novembers usually bring a period of reflection with them. Its almost the end of the year. The skies are gloomier as the summer’s long gone. You’re already thinking about the holiday season and what the next year might have in store for you.
For me, its pretty much the same but a tad bit more. Every year this time of the year, I start preparing my mind to accept and adapt to the weight of adding ‘plus one’ to my chronological age. Now, I have more to reflect on as The Atomic Investor turns a year older this week every year alongside myself.
Its been a fine ride so far. The conduit of ideas, as I like to call this place, has ~60 posts with at least 10x as many weekend hours spent reading, thinking, collating, researching, editing, drafting and struggling behind them. But as I keep reminding myself quite often, I’m not playing the numbers game. This is just an annual check that is quickly forgotten.
I never had any predefined goals when I set this up. I never planned on optimising for clicks or followers. All I had was this urge to get out there, express myself through my ideas, my perspectives and my discoveries on things I am deeply passionate about, and hopefully strike a chord with whoever’s reading all that.
The Atomic Investor is like a two year old infant learning how to walk. But I can still reflect on the accumulated time spent over the course of that period, including a few random thoughts on writing and my personal experience building this space.
The daunting blank page
It is harder than it first looks like. The blank page in front of you is daunting. At times you fail to find the right words and cannot structure your thoughts the way you want to. But this page is staring right at you, daring you to take that challenge. Jerry Seinfeld, a comedian and the creator of the hit series Seinfeld put it perfectly in a podcast episode with Tim Ferriss,
What you are attempting to do is incredibly difficult. One of the most difficult things there is, way harder than weight training, way harder, what you’re summoning, trying to summon within your brain and your spirit, to create something onto a blank page.
With time, you learn to put your mind and body in an environment which makes it less daunting and lets your thoughts flow.
Creatures of habit
We are, simply put, inertia loving obstinate creatures of habit and resistant to change. Everything that we do, our daily routines and how we spend your time is a result of our consciously and subconsciously built habits that we might not even be aware of. Writing too is product of that habit of thinking, questioning and streamlining your thoughts to put the words on paper. Once you’ve worked on that muscle, it starts becoming a part of your subconscious and stops feeling like extra effort.
Habits are a result of consistency (“ITS ALL ABOUT THEM REPS!! 🤌”). There is no other way and, as I mentioned last year too, this is the only playbook that works 99% of the time. I’m quite far off from being as consistent as I would like to be, but the reps help you build that habit of just showing up until it becomes effortless.
Writing, as they say, is another way of discovering the flaws in your thinking. In other words, one of the best ways to check if you understand what you’re thinking is trying to write it down like you’re helping others understand it. This exercise of processing and structuring , deleting what is rubbish, and then adding what is missing is like food for your brain.
This is a world where our mind is permanently enslaved by the dopamine slot machine in our pockets. It is always distracted and fails to go past the Current Thing. It cannot focus on the fleeting, but very interesting stream of thought that popped up inside of it. It would rather be engaged in the endless doomscrolling and swiping. Amidst all this chaos that I put my mind through daily, I have learned to cherish the time I spend here immensely and want to keep coming back.
Optimise for nothing
At least half of what you see online is clickbait. And almost all of it is optimised to get the most views, the most followers, clicks and impressions and so forth. I slowly came to realise that something like what I was trying to do doesn’t fit well in that environment. It may work for a while, but it is not sustainable enough as it reduced to a numbers game, with no meaning behind what you put out there.
Instead, optimising for yourself is what works best in the long run. Finding what works for you – your cadence and your effort. Not writing what they want to read, but writing what you want to tell them. You might start off imitating someone else’s style and ideas. But eventually, you learn to find your own voice and your own take on things.
It takes a bit of tinkering around with your style and what you put out there. In my case, I tried posting a weekly collection of reads and other content that I consumed that week (called “The Consumption Basket”). Then I tried adding a monthly version with my take on the markets (called “What Mattered”, which are still on the website). Quickly, I realised I wanted more creation rather than curation. Now, I am feel more comfortable with posting what works for me, structured around what I like talking about – tech, investing and growth.
So optimise for nothing, but yourself.
Writing and publishing online is like open-sourcing a part of yourself to the world (with view-only permissions of course). Every piece that you put out there is a version of your thoughts and ideas at that point in time. It is a free-hit for anyone on the internet to connect with you, discuss, debate or completely dismiss what you are saying.
Even for your own self, it is a repository that can be viewed at a different point in time, and updated if needed. Like a reality check of what you know, and what you don’t know.
Enough of the random rambling for making it to two years. It still feels like day zero and like in every November, I will now be looking at what next is in store for The Atomic Investor.
Until next time,
The Atomic Investor