“You cannot make progress without making decisions.” — Jim Rohn
Decision-making is a non-negotiable experience people from all walks of life must confront. No matter how crucial and stressful it can get, a decision usually has to be made in order to arrive at the next station in life.
Ultra-successful people are the easiest target for the harshest decision-making situations. However, successful people like legendary investor Warren Buffett set themselves apart through a systematic way of handling their choices.
These mega-moguls possess a skill that enables them to look into the bigger picture, avoid cognitive biases, and foresee long term results because they know that making smart decisions are necessary to thrive, achieve, and sustain success in life.
A brief on why we make bad decisions
According to recent studies, there are several factors that can negatively affect our decision making process. These might include our past experiences, cognitive biases, and a lot more factors that intensify the situation further. Pile all of that on to a stressful situation, and you have a recipe for subconscious decision-making disaster.
So, how can you avoid your brain’s tendency to make bad decisions?
Ultra-successful people like Warren Buffett have to make choices that can affect millions of dollars (and people) every day. Rather than letting this affect their choices, they utilize a method that could easily be applied to anyone’s life. It is known as the 10/10/10 Rule.
This rule is really simple. You just need to remember three questions, and be able to answer them with a forward-looking perspective:
The questions are:
1. How will I feel about my decision in 10 minutes?
2. How will I feel about my decision in 10 months?
3. How will I feel about my decision in 10 years?
Sounds like a tall order? Trust me, this self-questioning will improve over time as you go along and test it out more frequently.
Here is a simple application of the rule based on a choice I faced at age 22, and a look at how you can apply the rule to your life:
When I was 22, I had just moved to NYC, and I was trying to start my career by landing an interview on Wall Street. Of course, it was imperative for me to dress the part to land the job. With a rapidly evaporating savings account, I knew for a fact that I couldn’t afford a new suit.
I was presented with a dilemma: I could stay in every weekend and start saving up enough to buy the suit… or I could buy the suit by getting a credit card (while enjoying the city life), and hope to pay it off eventually.
Here’s how the 10:10:10 method played out when I thought about buying on credit:
1. How will I feel 10 minutes after buying the suit with a credit card?
I’ll feel good about myself! I don’t want my weekends to be defined by one purchase, and I don’t want to spend my life scrounging pennies.
2. How will I feel 10 months after buying on credit?
If I land a job by then, I’ll be glad I got to enjoy my weekends! But if I don’t, I’ll have to worry about paying off that dress (and not having any income).
3. How will I feel 10 years after buying on credit?
Either way, I’ll (hopefully!) have a job by then. If it takes me a while to land a job, though, I know that credit card debt can snowball very quickly, and I could end up regretting pilling on debt for years to come.
Sure enough, I lived very frugally for a while and saved up to buy the suit, and although I did land a job fairly quickly, I avoided going into debt in the process. And, as I learned, job security on Wall Street isn’t the best, so I was very happy about the extra cash cushion I had built up in case the job didn’t pan out.
How this applies to you
Your brain is hardwired to look towards short term pleasure. However, looking at long-term gratifications and their ramifications allows you to make smarter decisions. As Dr. Stephen Covey put it, “Happiness can be defined as the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually.”
This method forces you to think further, think smart, and assess the situation by how you would personally respond given the timeline. It saves you from a typical immediate reaction that could impact how you will be in the long run.
Practice is the key to success, and the same goes with this method: as you do it more often, you brain adapts quicker as well. So the next time you have to decide on something, give this long-term lens a try, and you’ll start to see the difference.
To learn more about building wealth and investing, check out my company LexION Capital’s website to see more tips.
If you have any ways to use this rule, or any other tips for smart decision-making, share them with me on Twitter or leave a comment!
Originally published at medium.com