I just started reading Ray Dalio’s Principles. I’m really just at the beginning, but so far the way he’s talking about principles is different from what I was expecting. It’s less about moral ideals (like “honesty” or “humility”), and more about creating shortcuts in decision-making frameworks. It’s about creating a set of guidelines to any given situation to help make a decision. And then reviewing those shortcuts for their effectiveness over time to adjust them as necessary.
I realized there are some decisions I’ve made that fall into this idea of “decision shortcuts.” They’re not really profound or revolutionary, but they do help me make decisions so I thought I’d share them;
- When planning something, bias towards “sooner.”
- Put simply, “waiting” is just a process of letting your life slip away. This helps me more than you’d think. When scheduling meetings I opt for the first available opening. I don’t even think about it. I think I picked this up from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, where the first habit is Be Proactive.
- Health is more important than work.
- At times I’ve been upset and stressed enough about my work to feel it in my body. We probably all have. But I’m realizing that’s the path to an early grave. And that’s not the right path to support my family. So I need to remind myself to fight for a good balance that includes taking care of my physical and mental health.
- Spend money freely on books.
- Honestly I’m pretty cheap, and I wear that badge with some pride. But I’ve realized that books are just a really great value all around. They help you learn new ideas, question your assumptions, broaden your creativity, they entertain you for hours and hours. I don’t buy books I won’t have time to read. But I no longer question spending money on books I’ll enjoy.
- Spend money freely on health.
- This is a corollary to my earlier point, but health is no place to cheap out. I don’t mean I think it’s ok to pour money into wackadoodle supplements and procedures. But I would have normally felt guilty about spending $80/month on a health club. I’ve decided that guilt is stupid. I’ve been going three times a week for a year and I’m about a million times healthier now. That’s a bargain.
- Sleep is necessary.
- In my startup days I would put in two shifts of work; a day shift, then spend time with the family, and then a night shift. I would get four or five hours of sleep per night on average. I don’t know if it’s age or wisdom, but I’m realizing I’m a better person when I get sleep. I’m smarter, more patient, and I have more energy for the people and things I care about. If I’m trying to plan so much in my day that it requires me to go without sleep, I need to plan better. Sleep can help with that. 🙂 Get sleep, do it in the morning, and stop overcommitting.
- Maybe I don’t need to be such a hard-ass dad.
- I realized the worst interactions I had with my kids were because they weren’t listening, because they were being disrespectful, because I would be embarrassed at their behavior if anyone else saw how we raise our children. But you know what? Hell, nobody’s perfect. Maybe I should be as patient with their screwups as I hope they will someday be with my screwups as a dad.
- “Outrage” is a choice, and you can opt out.
- This really deserves its own post… or a series of posts. But I realized that most of our online interactions are powered by outrage. This mechanism makes us feels like we are rattling the cage against oppressors and are fighting the good fight. But ultimately we are deepening divides, and we are changing nobody’s minds. From CNN to Fox News to Twitter to Facebook. I’m opting out. I’ve deleted the apps and I’m trying to wean myself from the habits. I’ll re-enter the fray when I can speak my mind with empathy and compassion and logic and reason.
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