By: Jason Shaw
Almost every morning since the start of 2014, I think back to a discussion that I had with a good friend on New Year’s Eve about our resolutions for the year to come. While New Year’s resolutions have become cliché and somewhat overdone, I have always thought it to be good practice to give yourself goals and, for most, a new year is the great starting point for something fresh. The resolution that my friend and I shared was to write something every day. Not emails, or texts, or tweets, or on Facebook, but something for ourselves that got the creative juices flowing. This writing is not necessarily something that needs to be shared or even re-visited, just something that gets our thoughts into the atmosphere and out of our heads where they could really do some damage. Initially, the intent was strictly cathartic and a way to release a little creative energy, but eventually I found that the effect reached well outside of my personal life. The process of writing forced me to think and communicate more effectively in my professional life, even if my writing had nothing to do with work. In addition, as an entrepreneurial thinker, writing is a great way to start to generate new business ideas or illustrate and vet old ones.
Recently, I was directed to an article in Inc Magazine written by Brad Feld, an entrepreneur and investor who has done very well in the tech field. In the article, Mr. Feld expresses the same sentiment towards writing every day for personal and professional growth. He mentions that writing down his thoughts has helped him improve his strategy for investing in start-ups, making his own business processes more efficient, and even simplifying his negotiating terms in his venture capital deals. In the end, the author acknowledges the difficulty in coming up with something to write about and he even concedes that he has gone through lulls of staring at a blank screen. But, while this is a hurdle, it should definitely not be a road block.
As much as I wish most of my daily writings involved my negotiating terms or deciding which company to invest in, I have still found value in the practice. Not all of what I write is business related (in fact most of it is not), however, it is still a fantastic way to open up the mind and improve communication skills. As for addressing the issue of what to write about every day, it doesn’t need to be that complicated. Not everything that is written needs to win a Pulitzer, nor does it even need to be structured. My advice is to find something and start writing down thoughts on it. It could be a song lyric, a person you saw on the street, something that is bothering you, whatever comes to mind – write it down. It is amazing how quickly the thoughts start pouring out once you start. And, depending on the content, you can use this as a way to analyze your thoughts and your approach to your life. This self-reflection is what helps you become a better employee, boss, spouse, sibling, and better person in general. You may even find that you stumble on the next big idea that causes Brad Feld to write how he intends to invest millions in your start-up. In which case, I expect a small equity stake.
Here is the link to Brad Feld’s article in Inc. Magazine – “The Best Way to Improve How You Think”.