Consequences…keeping your eyes on the prize

Decisions, decisions…pizza or burgers?  Gym or sleep?  To be or not to be? 

Ray Dalio, investor and hedge fund manager, who has served as co-chief investment officer of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates has some advice on how to approach the confusing and often irrational world of decision-making.

In our hunter-gatherer days it made sense for short-term impulses to take precedent: not reacting to impulses inspired by fear or anger could lead to death in the wild, but that’s no longer the case. In a modern society, short-term decisions are no longer always the most optimal.

How we feel about something in the moment isn’t always the best predictor of how we’ll feel about it over a period.  One of the things that differentiates people who consistently align their actions and decisions with what they want and people who don’t is not just long-term thinking, but also a form of high-level thinking.

As Dalio says: “People who overweight the first-order consequences of their decisions and ignore the effects that the second- and subsequent-order consequences will have on their goals rarely reach their goals.”

“For example, the first-order consequences of exercise (pain and time-sink) are commonly considered undesirable, while the second-order consequences (better health and more attractive appearance) are desirable… If your goal is to get physically fit and you don’t ignore the first-order consequences of exercise […] and connect your decisions with their second- and third-order consequences, you will not reach your goal.”

Makes sense, but not always so easy to put into practice.  One method that may help is the 10/10/10 method. 

Next time you feel a slight conflict about a decision or an action ask yourself three questions:

How will I feel about it in 10 minutes?
How will I feel about it in 10 months?
How will I feel about it in 10 years?

A little weekend motivation to keep your eyes on the prize!

More Lighterside articles.

Pamela Hellig