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It’s Time To Do Less

You must have heard by now what may be the most overused and completely unverifiable statistic around: 90% of people fail at their New Year’s resolutions within one month. Or 70%. Or 83%. No one really knows, but the truth remains, New Year’s resolutions are largely ineffective. If you’ve made them, you’ve probably broken them. I certainly have.

There are myriad reasons behind this, and I’ll spare you my armchair psychology on why that is. However, I think that one key reason why people fail is that it usually involves “addition.” Getting in shape: a new gym routine, a new diet. Reading more: new books, additional time out of your day dedicated to reading. Learning a new language: a substantial time investment is required. Mastering a musical instrument: I love music. I have an acoustic guitar that’s been sitting in a corner, quietly shaming me for the last five years. I’d love to learn to play it, but adding something else to my daily life feels overwhelming.

Most of us are busy. I rarely chat with you with the conversation starting off with, “Yeah… ya know, I don’t really have anything to do today.” We lead busy lives… working diligently and excelling in our professions, caring for and prioritizing time with our families, managing our investments, and achieving well-above-average returns on our invested capital.

Chances are, you exercise regularly, eat well, and have many other good habits, such as reading daily. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to read 52 books in 52 weeks, and you’re not already in the habit of reading for at least 30 minutes every day, then it will be a very challenging addition to your daily life.

So, here’s a paradoxical, but timely, suggestion for your 2022 resolutions. Resolve to do less. Rather than adding, subtract. Identify a thing or two that really doesn’t serve you and eliminate it.

Here are a few suggestions where you can begin culling/eliminating immediately.

News/Television – Stop watching it or drastically reduce it. Most of what passes for television news these days isn’t. Instead, identify one or two news sources you trust and read them on a regular basis. You’ll be better informed and may even sleep better at night.

A few of mine:

Wall Street Journal – For general economic/business news.

National Multifamily Housing Council Walker and Dunlop, Marcus & Millichap, CBRE, Newmark Knight Frank – All put out great, data-driven reports on the real estate market, various asset classes and markets, and the general economy.

Farnham Street – My favorite weekly e-mail on how to become a better thinker and human.

Howard Mark’s Memos – Howard is the Chairman of Oaktree Capital, an investment firm with $158B in assets under management.

This newsletter and the various PassiveInvesting.com content – I enjoy reading the insights from our leadership team. Our education and marketing teams put out fantastic, actionable content on a weekly basis.

Work – What are you doing that isn’t producing the results you’re after? Identify, eliminate/delegate, and focus on your highest value tasks. Author Cal Newport has written some great, short reads on how to maximize your working hours.

Investments & Opportunities – Be honest, how many sponsor or syndicator e-mails do you receive? What if you took a few minutes to identify your top sponsors, asset classes, and markets, and culled that list down to people you’ll actually invest with in the next 12 months?

Do you really enjoy managing your single-family homes? Could you get similar cash flow and returns investing passively? What mental space and time would that free up?

Relationships – This one is tough, but let’s be honest. There are people in our lives that we just don’t align or connect with anymore. Continuing to invest in relationships that don’t add to your life in a meaningful way robs you (and them) of the opportunity to invest in relationships that do. I’m thankful to have a small, but very high-quality group of friends that bring tremendous meaning to my life. They continue to support and sharpen me to become the man, husband, father, leader, and employee I desire to be. I’ve found this maxim to be true: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Well look at that, your schedule just opened up! Now you get to decide what to do with that free time. I’ve chosen to spend more time doing things I love with people I love, exploring fields and topics that capture my curiosity, and leaning into what I do best. Do I sometimes lapse? Yes. But I’m continually refining and improving.

Two books I would recommend to assist in this process:

Essentialism – Greg McKeown

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry – John Mark Comer

So, in 2022, resolve to do less. Let me know how it goes.