Before we get into the post let me state it right away: We can never know whether we would do something for long term. But we can know what we don’t want to do for the long term.
Example: Nobody wants the habit of eating junk food or not exercising regularly to stay with them for the long term.
Doing anything for the long term is very difficult.
Just ask yourself, have you done something for long term? If you are above 30 then let’s take 10-12 years as long term and 20-25 age group people can consider 5-7 years as long term. Even maintaining relationship for the long term is very difficult. I have only one friend currently whom I talk to daily since 2014.
There are only two things which I have been doing for more than 5 years in my life: Working out and Reading. (Technically, investing can fall into this category, but I actively started investing only in 2018-19. Before that I only used to read and make mock trade on a free app with fake money.)
Within the category of working out there is no single out activity which I did for the long term rather it kept on changing.
I have already written about I my interest changed in one of my previous articles, but in here is the timeline in short:
- 8-9th grade: I was into running and after watching Bhaag Milkha Bhaag I wanted to become a 100m sprinter.
- 9-10th grade: I got into calisthenics and became obsessed with it.
- 11-12th grade: My obsession reached another level when I started lifting weights and had even thought of becoming a bodybuilder.
- After 12th grade: Bodybuilding craze went down the hill and now I occasionally workout for just maintaining the fitness.
So, even though I have indulged into exercising/working out for long period of time, and continuing, the intensity and the nature of the activity has changed significantly.
I have reached at a stage that now I don’t need motivation to hit the gym. It seems less like an effort and more like a routine which got embedded into my lifestyle.
I started reading in my 12th grade, initially with self-help and then shifting towards investing related.
Before 12th grade, I used to hate reading and I used to mock people who used to read (I was a kid, please excuse me for that behaviour) and now I am surrounded by books.
I am still into reading because the incentive still works for me.
By reading books I can learn about experiences and knowledge which other people are sharing and I can apply it to the field I am interested in.
Especially in investing, you can also read other disciplinary books and connect the dots as investing is multidisciplinary.
E.g.: You can read a book on marketing and learn that opposite of a good idea is also a good idea and you shouldn’t reject them just because there is an opposing view.
I have reached a stage that when sometimes I get asked that how do you get time to read, I start to wonder where else should I spend my time on? When something gets engraved into your routine then you never question yourself about putting the effort. It just seems all natural to your mind.
Why am I telling you about my long-term experience with these two things? It is because to show you that asking your yourself on what is long term helps you realize that it is quite difficult to do something for a long period of time.
Doing something for the long term requires immense amount of passion and a goal which you can visualize.
If there is no purpose and you started doing it just because you saw a YouTube ad or your friend circle is into it, the probability of you sticking with it is quite low.
E.g.: I have mentioned earlier that one of my friend who started investing in Crypto, his mindset is that initially he would put money for making quick gains but if prices fall he is in for the “long term”.
If your initial mindset while starting a new thing is set on the wrong track, then I think it’s not a right way to start something for long term.
Let me be clear, I am not recommending that stop exploring new things.
If you feel curious about anything I would highly encourage you to try it out. But sometimes you just know what not to do. Like, currently I am a law student, and I really don’t enjoy math and science. So, I know that if I ever get any task related to that I must automate it by delegation.
Whenever there is fun in doing something then one should definitely try it out as we cannot rule out the power of serendipity.
Another Short Experience
Here is a short example of how you would notice that something is fun:
Recently I bought a PS4 game and two PC games.
I was also under a dilemma with regards to buying a gaming laptop. Even though my current laptop seems good except some battery issue.
Here are the factors affecting me:
- I knew that this urge to buy a gaming laptop is temporary, as due to this pandemic there was more free time available.
- Two months college break had also started.
- A close friend of mine with whom I talk regularly also bought a gaming laptop.
- I had started to watch YouTube live streams where people do gaming.
All these things were acting together making me bias towards that purchase. But I know that once life gets to normal, I won’t be interested in these things and currently I am highly biased.
Coming back to my recently purchases, one thing I realized that playing those games didn’t really make me happy. Rather it felt like a task which I brought into my life.
When I was in school, I used to play a lot of games. I was crazy about them and now the urge to play games came again. I was fine with it until I realized even after taking the call of buying a game and playing it, I didn’t really feel happy. Rather, watching Samit Vartak’s interview, writing a blog post, and reading annual report of a company gave me immense pleasure.
Understand yourself. Introspect and see what decision you took with an assumption that you would do it for a very long time but ended up quitting. There are going to be only few things in life which will really excite you. As and when you keep repeating those activities it would reach a stage where the efforts for any incremental activity would be zero and it would be embed into your lifestyle leading to higher probability for doing that activity for long term.