If only we had more time/money/resources

“If only we had more time/money/resources” is a natural go-to refrain from time to time.

Of course, it turns out that the better thing to do is to replace it with the question – “But, what am I doing with the time/money/resources I have at hand?”

It is a better and more important question for two reasons. Creativity shows up in the presence of constraints. And, more importantly, if we can’t get the best out of the resources we have, why should we be trusted with more?

Working from home – what my friends think I do vs. what I actually do

A few years ago, there used to be a great set of memes that spoke to the differences between perception and reality. For example, here’s what the meme for “working from home” looked like.

There were a collection of similar ones (many of which really hit the spot) that all served to highlight a simple idea – few things are as glamorous as they look from the outside.

It is a powerful lesson and one most of us would do well to remember from time to time.

Learning and teaching

The person who learns most in a thoughtfully designed class is the teacher.

The act of thoughtfully designing the curriculum and synthesizing what we know for practical application makes teaching things one of the fastest ways to learn.

So, one way to check in on investments in our learning curve is to periodically ask ourselves – are we taking time out of our schedule to attempt to teach what we want to learn?

Doing without labeling

We deal with many kinds of events over the course of a given day or week. And, one of our mechanisms for dealing with this diversity is reducing them to simple labels – good, bad, confusing, shocking, etc.

These labels are important in their ability to reduce cognitive load on a daily basis. However, they also take away a lot of the richness of the experience. Most of what happens to us has a lot more texture than what a simple label can describe.

An idea I’ve been exploring over the past weeks is consciously doing without labeling. This has meant resisting any temptation to label my days or answer questions like “how is your day going?”

Aside from the benefit of avoiding an inauthentic/generic answer to the question (I replace it with something more humorous like – “It’s going – hopefully in the right direction” :)), it inspires two powerful outcomes.

First, it gives me more time to sit with my reflections on a day instead of forcing closure with a label. I’ve found myself spending more time soaking lessons out of my experiences versus moving on to a book or some other distraction.

And, second, it has enabled me to live life in a way that is more aligned to my philosophy that “you never know if a good is a good day.” We never really do. All we can do is be thoughtful about the trade-offs we’re making and keep plugging away.

So, here’s to that..

Credit card fraud

Our approach to saving has been consistent in the last decade. We chose not to maintain budgets – instead, we’ve adhered to a principle of “conscious spending” and targeted saving 40%+ of what we earn.

As part of staying true to this principle, we’ve consciously entered every expenditure into a spreadsheet. It is simple, low tech, and ensures we’re making conscious spending decisions.

The other benefit of this approach, as I learned yesterday, is that it also helps us quickly catch credit card fraud. I had a few notifications of expenses that I was about to enter into the spreadsheet, found one I didn’t recognize, and called Chase to confirm that our credit card had been compromised.

It was a nice reminder to schedule an end-of-year security audit. If you haven’t scheduled one, this practice comes strongly recommended. 3 things to check in on –
1) 2 factor authentication on all your key accounts
2) Notifications on all your credit cards so you know when expenses are made
3) Set up monitoring of your credit and account details using services like CreditKarma and SpyCloud.

Stay safe out there.

PS: In case helpful, I’d shared a couple posts last year on our approach to personal finance. As part of that, I’d shared the simple spreadsheet we use and how it has evolved over time.

Communication, trust, intent

The amount of communication required in a relationship is inversely proportional to the amount of trust in it.

Trust shows up in the the proportion of time both folks in a relationship assume good intent. So, when this assumption isn’t made by default, it needs to be replaced by a lot of communication to signal good intent or repair damage caused by assumed bad intent.

That’s why some of the best investments in efficient communication come from embracing inefficiency in the early stages of relationships – e.g. investing in getting to know each other before starting on a project or during periods of uncertainty.

Our long term relationship effectiveness, thus, hinges on our ability to consistently go slow to go fast.

(H/T: Ben Horowitz’s new book on culture of sparking the reflection on communication and trust)