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Thinking Better in 2022 (and Beyond)

One of my mentors annually shares his approach to the goals he plans to achieve. He creates an overarching theme for each year, such as “peak fitness,” and “family first.”

My theme for this year is “think better”… pretty vague right? I want to share why I landed on that, how I’m approaching it, and some resources that may be helpful to you. 

One of my absolute favorite authors is Dallas Willard. I’ve read many of his books multiple times, and he is by far the author I quote the most, as my family and friends will tell you, not without a knowing smirk.

He has many profound quotes and insights on living a good life, but my favorite of his is this: “The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will allow or require our minds to dwell upon.”

Why think better?

Throughout the ages, leaders, philosophers, and investors have had the ability to think much better than average. Good thinking seems to be the foundation of a successful life, and I would argue that good thinking is more important than it ever has been. We are in an age of information overload. I wrote an article in the February issue about the importance of simplifying and doing less. The conscious choice to curate what information we take in, and the ability to critically read, analyze, and make decisions based on that information, is truly a rare skill. More often we are being told or taught what to think rather than how to think. How we think about ourselves, others, our world, our time, our resources, etc. is the foundation for all action and can have unbelievably positive (or devastating) outcomes.

While good thinking applies to every aspect of our lives, it’s of particular importance in our current economic climate. Increasing interest rates, inflation, global geopolitical and economic considerations, and compressed cap rates are just a few of the factors that have emerged in recent months and years and must be taken into consideration when developing and executing a well-thought-out investment strategy.

How I’m approaching it

Timeless Wisdom – Much of what passes for information and content these days is derivative. This is not to say there’s no value in it, but let’s assume that you have 30 minutes a day to read/digest information that will make you a better investor. Principles & wisdom that have stood the test of time would be where you’d want to start. This is not the first time in history that interest rates have risen. Past insights into how rising interest rates have impacted asset values, bond yields, equity markets, and the overall economy are very helpful. (Someone speculating on exactly where rates will go, or why this politician or that one are idiots might be entertaining but have no value.)

Fewer inputs/higher quality 

I won’t elaborate here too much, as I addressed this in my previous article on doing less, but limits actually create clarity and eliminate decision fatigue.

Decision fatigue is a real thing by the way: Simply put, decision fatigue is the deterioration of our ability to make good decisions after a long session of decision making.

Steve Jobs famously combatted this by wearing the same thing (black turtleneck, blue jeans, and New Balance sneakers) every day. Here’s the thing… we have a limited capacity to make well-reasoned, good decisions, but we’re faced with more choices than ever before.

One of my favorite questions to ask intelligent/successful people is “what do you read on a daily or weekly basis?”

Resources I’m utilizing 

Books:

  • The Great Mental Models (Volumes 1, 2, & 3) – The Wall Street Journal bestselling series
  • Poor Charlies Almanack-Charlie Munger (Warren Buffett’s business partner)
  • The Bible 
  • Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of World-Class Performers – Tim Ferriss
  • Thinking In Bets – Poker champion turned business consultant Annie Duke
  • Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail – Ray Dalio
  • Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises – Ray Dalio

Blogs:

  • Farnam Street
  • Howard Marks
  • Warren Buffett’s shareholder letters
  • Case Shiller Index 

I would highly encourage you to join me in making an investment in thinking well this year. As a very wise man once said, “As someone thinks in their heart, so are they.”

Note: If you’re interested in resources to help you identify poor thinking/reasoning in yourself or others, I’m happy to share some additional resources to give more clarity and context. Send me an email, and I’ll send them your way.