It takes some audacity for me to say this knowing that I haven’t had consistent output in every creative medium this past year, and I won’t hide behind my struggles with anxiety in that regard either. That said, when you start with first principles, it isn’t the format that matters so much as the goal. By staying true to my goals day by day regardless of format, I’ve received compounding returns.

For context, my primary aim in starting this newsletter was to share as I learn. The same goes for my podcast and most of my online presence. So when I didn’t podcast I still wrote newsletters. When I didn’t write newsletters I wrote threads. When I didn’t write threads I wrote tweets. When anxiety, procrastination and writers block struck, I delivered continual output through lower-stakes mediums. Simultaneously, I doubled down on my inputs, i.e. how much I learned and absorbed. Over the course of the year I increased my yearly reading target on Goodreads from 25 to 40 to 52, and then broke that final target by reading 60 books.

My Goodreads reading record showing I hit 60 books for the year 2020
My Goodreads reading record showing I hit 60 books for the year 2020

Some of the habits I established early in the year survived the pandemic largely due to my unnecessarily competitive nature - I’m currently on an inadvertent Duolingo streak of 200+ days because my pride is on the line every time I fall to the bottom of my league.

Conversely, some of my best habits were my least consistent but I capitalised on momentum. There were periods during the year where I didn’t pick up a single book, and there were three separate weeks in the year where I read 6,7, and 8 books respectively. I was cognisant of my end goal throughout and doubled down when I felt strong currents of intrigue and alertness.

At many points, my concentration waned. It took me several months to finish one particular book, and the odyssey of completing it involved buying it in paperback, ebook and then audiobook, and almost burning my house down when I fell asleep listening to the audiobook with a sausage roll in the oven. Something that helped throughout was a very intentional journey of publicly sharing my wins and losses, and living on the accountability of that community.

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