Today, right now, whatever life-changing decision you intend to make will impact the rest of your life as long as you live.
Everyone has regrets.
The question is, do you want to minimise your future ones?
Committing to the right future course of action is important for our happiness and success. We need to know that we’re making the best decisions for ourselves and not regretting them later on.
But this can be challenging, especially when there are so many options available to us. How do we make the right choices without regrets?
Many people take decision making for granted. They don’t think deeper into the consequences enough.
There are first, second and third-order consequences of critical decisions you make.
You may not realise it now, but there will be consequences for every path you choose in life: the number of repercussions depends on the thinking framework you use to analyse your decisions.
The regret minimisation framework (RMF)is a good principle or mental model I find repeatedly useful.
Regret minimisation is a framework for decision-making under conditions of uncertainty and risk. Paul Slovic and colleagues first introduced the regret minimisation framework in 2008.
It provides a guide to make decisions that can be considered better than average, or at least not the worst possible conclusion, in terms of the regret they generate.
The suggested method for minimising regrets is:
- Identify the individual’s preferences or choices you could take.
- Write them down and rank alternatives.
- For each option list the many positive and negative consequences.
- Consider your emotions in relation to each option and what you’ll feel if you take any one course of action.
- Make a choice with the best overall expected emotional return with fewer future regrets.
If you’re faced with a difficult decision, try using this framework to help you decide which choice will create the least amount of regret for you.
Jeff Bezos used the regret minimisation framework to choose between a job and starting Amazon. He explains:
“For me, the best way to think about it was to project myself forward to age 80 and say, ‘Look, when I’m 80-years-old, I want to have minimised the number of regrets that I have.’ I don’t want to be 80-years-old and in a quiet moment of reflection, thinking back over my life, and cataloging a bunch of major regrets.
If it failed, fine. I would be very proud of the fact when I’m 80 that I tried. And I also knew that it would always haunt me if I didn’t try. And so that would be a regret, it would be 100 percent chance of regret if I didn’t try and basically a zero percent chance of regret if I tried and failed. That’s a useful metric for any important life decision.”
RMF can help you reduce the odds of future regret.
You can use this framework in any decision you make to minimise the worst outcomes or better still increase your chances of making a better decision.
Regret minimisation is similar to decision-making under uncertainty, but it considers our emotional response to the outcome.
There are many different types of regrets that we could experience, such as regretting an action or not taking action at all.
“Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret,” argues Don Miguel Ruiz.
It’s not always easy to know the right decision to make, especially when you are in an emotional state.
The regret minimisation framework is one way of making the best possible decision when faced with uncertainty.
This system uses qualitative and quantitative analysis to help make sense of your thoughts and feelings about different scenarios or decisions.
“The only things you regret are the things you don’t do,” Michael Curtiz.
When in doubt, do more of what makes you come alive.
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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