Core decisions in life?

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Bankai
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Core decisions in life?

Post by Bankai » Tue Feb 05, 2019 1:37 pm

Looking at millions of decisions one makes during one's lifetime, only a handful of them seem to really matter with the other >99.99% having no lasting impact on one’s life. It should then be possible to boil down ‘life strategy’ to only a few ‘core’ decisions that are actually life changing and focus to get those foundations right. This also allows one to have a distance to all the small ‘failures’ that so many people spend so much time worrying about. How would that list look? Here’s what I would put on mine:

1) Accept full responsibility for whatever happens to you
2) Make health a priority
3) Marry the right person (for you) – this includes the decision on having children
4) Choose where you live carefully
5) Save and invest a good part of your paycheck until you don’t need a paycheck
6) Find a job you like
7) Develop a close social circle of friends and family
8) Create meaning in your life?

This is a very high level and it’s possible to go many levels deep into each point. Do you think there are some other key choices that really shape one’s life?

George the original one
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by George the original one » Tue Feb 05, 2019 3:15 pm

Know when to undo a key life decision whether due to change or recognizing a mistake. Some would say that living location and jobs are easy to change rather than becoming permanent.

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Fish
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by Fish » Tue Feb 05, 2019 3:21 pm

If I may narrow the focus to “financial success” focusing on discrete decisions as opposed to process, then I think it looks like this:

1. Whether a person decides to start a business
2. Choice of vocation (the college major decision may be even more influential since it limits choice of work)
3. Spouse (their occupation/family wealth + whether one is able to avoid divorce)
4. Number of children
5. Housing

Things like investing, consumption habits, maintenance of health (diet, exercise), and being information-seeking are also impactful but those are areas where it is the sum of many small decisions. Then there are other things out of one’s control like where a person is born, quality of their parents, and family wealth.

suomalainen
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by suomalainen » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:47 pm

I largely agree with OP, but would change it a little bit:

1) Accept full responsibility for whatever happens to you
2) Make health a priority
3) [Marry the right person (for you) – this includes the decision on having children] -> would change to: Accept full responsibility for how you act towards the person you chose to marry, as this matters much more than who the spouse was on the marriage day
4) [Choose where you live carefully] -> this only matters from a slum / not slum perspective. I don't think the details really matter.
5) Save and invest a good part of your paycheck until you don’t need a paycheck
6) [Find a job you like] -> would add: and learn to like the job you found
7) Develop a close social circle of friends and family
8) Create meaning in your life?

The only other point I'd make is that you probably don't know a priori which of those [3] decisions in your life will have the longest-term impact. Sometimes you make a decision that was nothing to you at the time but that you will look back on and rue or celebrate.

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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by jacob » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:02 pm

This presumes that it is possible for one to choose the choices that the decision is based on. IOW, there's a built in presumption of 100% agency here.

EdithKeeler
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by EdithKeeler » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:46 pm

I think much smaller decisions can often have a much greater impact on your life. For example, the decision to have one more drink before driving can have a devastating impact on your life and the live of others. The decision not to wear a condom has derailed many life plans. I know a guy who had a full ride to Notre Dame for football; he went snow skiing on a lark and broke his leg so badly he lost his scholarship and ended up in community college and ultimately the assistant manager of Wal-Mart. You might say something stupid to your boss in the heat of the moment and get canned.

And you may encounter issues that prevent you from making these decisions. Caring for a sick relative may preclude you from moving to a better location. Saving is great.... but maybe you make so little you consume every penny, despite good habits. Maybe you have a speech impediment or a learning disability that makes everything more challenging.

I’m not disagreeing with what you’ve written, necessarily, but life’s not always that simple. I wish there was a formula: if you do A, B and C, everything will always work out. Maybe. Maybe not.

Jason
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by Jason » Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:50 pm

Thanks for the uplifting message there, Edith.

EdithKeeler
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by EdithKeeler » Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:21 pm

pm

Thanks for the uplifting message there, Edith
Ha! The truth: our lives are untethered mine cars careening out of control in the pitch black dark. 😁

Maybe not QUITE that bad.

OTCW
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by OTCW » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:36 pm

Others (more generic)

1 Think before you speak or act.
2 Listen more than you talk
3 Push yourself
4 Read

wolf
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by wolf » Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:37 am

It reminds me of this concept

Warren Buffett's “20-Slot” Rule
"I could improve your ultimate financial welfare by giving you a ticket with only 20 slots in it so that you had 20 punches—representing all the investments that you got to make in a lifetime. And once you’d punched through the card, you couldn’t make any more investments at all. Under those rules, you’d really think carefully about what you did and you’d be forced to load up on what you’d really thought about. So you’d do so much better.”

found here https://jamesclear.com/buffett-slots

IlliniDave
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:29 am

I think the list would be unique for everyone. I think it's more a matter of juggling priorities to match a well-understood value hierarchy. Most decisions are situational and can reasonably be decided different ways at different times and/or under different circumstances. Deciding on the value hierarchy is arguably most important although even that isn't necessarily permanent and will change through time.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:27 am

I agree with EK. Decisions are not synonymous with habits, values, or general life philosophy.

For instance, in retrospect, I think having children (and, thus, stopping having) relatively early in life was a very good decision, even though it did not even conform with my own notion of best practice at the time. In another 10 years, my perspective might change again, but I think this decision is the number one reason why I don't currently envy the majority of my female peers (not to mention my male peers who, as jp hilariously put it, choose to father their own grandchildren) who either don't have children or still have children at home. Kind of the biological equivalent of having a successful career, but then being able to early retire from it, while maintaining a flexible, very part-time position on the board of directors.

Choosing to start my own business, which also happened on a bit of a whim, was another very good decision, and the one I am most likely to wish I had done at an even earlier age, like maybe I would have dropped out of school at 15 to pursue this course.

Baking lots of cookies to consume with coffee while my kids were going through their most bothersome years was also a good choice, because this practice allowed me to maintain a very mellow, yet upbeat, demeanor which resulted in a quite positive relationship with my children which I believe will have huge impact on my well-being during my 80s. I do not see as good results from experiments with aerobic exercise and red wine attempted by some of my peers.

Also, I think choosing to become sexually active at a relatively young age was a good decision, because it is kind of like swimming; if you wait too long to learn, you are never able to fully overcome your anxiety. Of course, there may be a bit of chicken/egg there...dunno.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:30 am

*******

SustainableHappiness
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by SustainableHappiness » Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:05 pm

I'd echo what others say with a bit of a spin.

Separating out your ability to make decisions from your inherent biases and thought patterns is very difficult if not impossible and I think it usually entails either a rigorous process to create a cognitive gap and break you out of a bad decision, or another person helping you, or both.

Boiling it down to "the big decisions" feels like it is giving finality to certain decision paths which is not a true give to be given.

We are also generally bad at predicting the long-term emotional outcome of these decisions, not to mention being bad at making complex decisions, period. This textbook does an o.k. job of analyzing some bad decisions that have been made https://www.amazon.com/Think-Again-Lead ... 1422126129 in the business and political landscapes. However, the recos rely on building in safeguards into your decision making process that either require a committee in your personal life or the ability (or desire) to process personal decisions in a very methodical process.

Therefore I prefer the broad and inexplicable approach similar to OTCW's post. I say inexplicable, because it tends to rely on cliches that are self-evident and searching for more just muddies the water. This also means a bigger focus on working with decision outcomes (a la suo's alternatives) after the decision itself.

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Lemur
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by Lemur » Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:15 pm

Choosing to have a locus of control over any and all events in life...avoiding victim mentality. Both core decisions I think.

bigato
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by bigato » Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:46 am

SustainableHappiness wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:05 pm
Separating out your ability to make decisions from your inherent biases and thought patterns is very difficult if not impossible and I think it usually entails either a rigorous process to create a cognitive gap and break you out of a bad decision, or another person helping you, or both.
There's a sizable and dense book on this called "Thinking Fast and Slow", by Daniel Kanehman, whom received the Nobel prize in economics.

SustainableHappiness
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Re: Core decisions in life?

Post by SustainableHappiness » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:42 am

@bigato. It's on the list. :)

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