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The Inner Circle - Issue #6

The importance of rituals, and why I started doing Instagram reels.

Sean Johnson
Sean Johnson
4 min read

This newsletter is for my inner circle. The people whose opinions matter to me the most. It’s where I’ll be more open than normal. Where I’ll share what I’m excited about, what I’m processing. You’re on this list for a reason. Thank you for being in my life.

In this issue:

  • The importance of rituals
  • Why I started doing Instagram Reels

The importance of rituals

Heading to the annual dads and kids camping trip.

There are a number of things I’m not sure I’d have learned had I not had kids.
That’s not to say other people couldn’t learn these things. Just that I don’t think I would have.

One of the biggest has been the importance of rituals.

It wasn’t deliberate. It happened organically. Some of it is the constraints of their lives. The school calendar provides some rails that you have to adhere to.

But as a result we’ve progressively organized our lives around a series of rituals. Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual routines.

Some examples:

  • Every night at dinner we ask our kids questions. Questions like “what is one thing you really admire about a friend of yours?” or “if you could change one rule in our house, what would you change?” Far from thinking it’s cheesy, they legit get excited about it, and are annoyed when we don’t do it.
  • Every week we have a weekly review meeting. We get our calendar in place. We plan our meals for the week. We sometimes go over our budget. This routine sets up our week well, and makes sure we minimize our stress as much as possible.
  • At the beginning of each season, we make a list as a family of all the things we want to do to “make the most of the season.” We try to check off as many of them as possible.
  • We have probably a dozen annual routines the kids look forward to. A camping trip with a bunch of dads each fall. Drinking hot cocoa and wearing pajamas while driving around to look at Christmas lights. Unlimited movie nights during December. A ski trip over in February. Memorial Day adventure with dad while mom goes hiking with her sister. A beach trip with the cousins in July. “Camp” with the grandparents in Colorado in August (during which time my wife and I go somewhere adulty.)

These have obviously added a fair amount of structure and predictability to our lives. But they’ve also added a lot of joy.

The smaller, more frequent routines create a comfortable cadence to life. They eliminate stress, they build in moments of joy and peace in otherwise hectic schedules. They ensure we prioritize the right things by making them habits.

The other larger routines create a calendar of joy. So much of the enjoyment of vacations, holidays, etc. is the anticipation. It’s having something to look forward to. These rituals have made it where we have something to look forward to year round.

As the kids get older, they also take on more responsibility for the routines. They start to take on planning roles. They get excited that they now get to play a role in making it happen.

Even if you don’t have kids, I think you’d benefit from creating some rituals for your own life. Consider that same cadence.

Start with a daily morning or evening routine. Something you do just for you that gives you more life.

Ask yourself what weekly routines would make the weeks more manageable and less harried.

Ask what quarterly or annual routines would give you constant sense of anticipation and excitement.

They don’t have to be big. They should be specific to you (or your family). All that matters is that they reflect your values and either create joy or eliminate stress.

Why I started doing Instagram reels

If you’re like me, at some point you were scrolling through your IG feed instead of doing something more meaningful with your life. And you tapped on that little video icon in the center of the nav, and started watching a bunch of pretty ridiculous videos set to music.

Fast forward a few weeks, and it’s likely the primary way you consume content on Instagram.That’s a big change to a major platform. A major source of your attention, and likely your customer’s attention.

It pays to understand it.

So, like stories and IGTV and Snapchat and Clubhouse before it, I dove in to try to understand it.

I’m at the age where more than a few people give me a hard time about it. It seems deeply narcissistic. And it probably is.

But whenever a platform (or design pattern within a platform) emerges, they typically go out of their way to drive attention to that feature. They want to make sure it takes off.

That means a disproportionate amount of attention within the platform flows to that feature. It’s an arbitrage opportunity. Over time, as more people adopt that feature, and especially as they start to monetize that feature, its effectiveness begins to dwindle. And then the cycle repeats again.

So it pays to understand how to use those features when they’re early. Understanding how it works makes me a better advisor to our clients or our investments.

I’ve not been willing to do a dance video (yet.) But I’ve already learned the ideal times to post (early in the morning or late at night). I’ve learned that the first few minutes have a disproportionate impact on how well it tends to do over its lifetime (it appears IG rewards Reels with quick early engagement with a lot more views).

I’ve said it for years - the day you stop being curious is the day your career dies. If the trade off is my 25 year old colleagues (or soon, my kids) give me a hard time about it, so be it.

If you’d like to follow me so you can make fun of me too, you can do that here.

Thanks for reading!

As always, if you have ideas for how to make this better, please let me know. Thanks for being in my life ❤.

-- Sean