Sunday night over dinner, my son, parents and I were discussing the saving / investing system we set up for our kids in the spring. The idea was/is: set a monthly budget for purchases (in their case, mostly online movies, tv shows and games), and include a really healthy interest rate (20% monthly) to encourage savings. What a great idea! I got lots of really nice feedback on the post back in March.
My son described the system to my parents, but instead of describing the concept, as I just did, he described the reality: we set the budget, did it for a few months, and then basically forgot about it. So, rather than teach my kids a valuable lesson about saving and investing, I thought them how weak my own follow-through can be. Ouch.
It reminds me of a psychology study that found that announcing a plan is, in fact, detrimental to seeing the plan through — because, you get a nice dose of good feeling by announcing the plan, so much so that you lose the motivation to actually do it. This is, of course, problematic, and to be avoided.
If I’m honest, I can think of plenty of times where this has happened to me. I’ll refrain from listing them all out here, but trust me, there are more than a few examples. Looking back, the times I have been the most successful at seeing something hard and long-term all the way through are the times when I have just done it and not said anything about it. Show, don’t tell.
The holy grail is when something goes from being a plan to being a routine. Routine is so powerful, and yet somehow, sometimes, so elusive. At USV, we have built-in routine in some very useful ways — most notably, around our Monday team meeting (similar to most investment teams). The cadence is valuable and sets the tone for a lot of our work.
I have personally found it harder to get good routines going when it comes to writing, exercise, and a bunch of other things I think are important. Generally speaking, I find myself to be more bursty than reliably consistent. It is something to work on (but not talk about until it’s done…)