Build a Nest

The 10 of Coins is about building and sharing a nest egg.

Every year seems to bring a new era of blogging. There was the era of getting started. The era of transition. The era of confusion and disorder. The era of (failed) experimentation. This year also brought on a new era. And I feel like it has been the best one yet.

I don’t just say that because it is most recent in my memory. Or because it is the one that leveraged the most years of experience. I say it because the posts have felt better and more useful.

But really, it’s more than a feeling. I know the work has been better because I’ve found myself returning to it again and again, literally. Whenever I link to a previous post, it has overwhelmingly been one I’ve written in 2018. Why? Perhaps it’s the result of nearly five years of practice. Or that I’ve been more trusting of the process. Or that I’ve been writing what I most need to read. Maybe all three.

But I also believe it might have something to do with a piece of advice I took earlier this year from consultant and blogger Tom Critchlow:

“As Venkatesh [Rao] says in the Calculus of Grit—release work often, reference your own thinking, and rework the same ideas again and again.”

In Venkatesh’s article, he also writes:

“It sounds narcissistic, but if you’re not referencing your own work at least 10 times as often as you’re referencing others, you’re in trouble in the intrinsic motivation world. Instead of deepening your own internal momentum and inertia, you are being buffeted by external forces, like a grain of pollen being subjected to the forces of Brownian motion.”

As someone who tries to integrate the thinking of others into each post, I cannot help but feel that the 10-to-1 ratio is a bit extreme. But his underlying point is well taken. It is one thing to find inspiration in someone’s work, leverage it, and move on. It is another to use that inspiration more intentionally, return to it again and again as a means to deepen your own thinking.

In past eras, eras that I don’t often reference in my current work, I built this blog like a web—something two-dimensional, spread far and wide with the hope of catching readers. But this year, whether intentional or not, I’ve been building a nest—something permanent, something I can keep going back to, something that is sustaining, something for me.

In past eras, I was always looking for something new. But the truth is, you can search forever and never find what you’re looking for. As historian David McCullough said:

“The chances of finding a new piece [of the puzzle] are fairly remote—though I’ve never written a book where I didn’t find something new—but it’s more likely you see something that’s been around a long time that others haven’t seen. Sometimes it derives from your own nature, your own interests. More often, it’s just that nobody bothered to look closely enough.”

Chances are, the answer is already in front of you.

Each Monday, I share strategies to help you master your limited time, get started, and build creative habits that stick. Try it. You’ll like it.

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