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How to Make Better Life-Changing Decisions

02/12/2015 04:10 pm ET | Updated Apr 14, 2015
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It's time to shift our thinking from analysis-driven decision making and get at the heart of what we all actually want: happiness.

The corporate way to make decisions involve things like cost-benefit analysis, risk analysis, data analysis, plus a whole bunch of other analysis-driven exercises. Don't get me wrong, this stuff is extremely valuable. However, at the end of the day the only way to get what we want out of life is to analyze how we will feel after we make important decisions.

The 10-10-10 rule is powerful but simple. For any life decision, evaluate how you will feel in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years.

The only thing that any person is chasing, with any goal and decision, is happiness. It sounds airy-fairy, but it's actually quite simple. We all want to feel good.

Happiness-Gain vs Loss-Pain

All decisions, even poor ones, are driven by our constant seeking of happiness. Think fast-food drive thrus, bad boyfriends, continuing in a lack-luster career, etc. People make those decisions because 1) they think the action will make them happy (at least for that moment), or 2) they feel the loss-pain will be greater than the happiness-gain.

What you need to focus on is what will make you feel the best, which is the happiness-gain, not the loss-pain. Loss-pain is driven by fear. Fear-based decisions rarely work out in your best interest.

For example, if someone just loves fast-food cheese burgers, instead of thinking about loosing the seemingly delicious burger (it only lasts five minutes anyways), they can instead focus on how much better it will feel to have the self confidence that comes with taking care of their body, having a slimmer waistline, and how good it will feel to have more energy from healthy food they eat.

Another example would be changing careers. Too many people are bored and unfulfilled in their careers. Most choose a job or college major when they are 18 or just fall into a decent paying job. Ten years later, the majority aren't passionately loving what they do each day.

Over 30 percent of your adult life is spent at work, so why do people choose to stay where they are bored and unfulfilled? The uncertainty of success in a new endeavor will usually hold people right where they're at. In the moment, it feels better to stay in the boring career then to embrace the uncertainty of following what they're passionate about.

Let's implement the 10-10-10 rule in this career example:

  • In 10 minutes or 10 days, you might feel excited and uncertain at the same time. "Will this work? Can I do this? What will my friends think?" You might also feel great relief from leaving something you don't love.
  • In 10 months, you might feel alive with new energy. You might be feeling some stress if you had to go back to school to learn a new trade. You could also be knee-deep in your new passion and loving it.
  • In 10 years, how would you feel if you had stayed where you are? Happy and fulfilled, or bitter and filled with regret? You might become a renowned expert in your field of passion and impact lives around the world.
Focus on how you want to feel and the rest will work itself out. It takes effort, hard work, and a lot of love, but life will work itself out when you follow your heart.

Only you know the answers to these questions. The 10-10-10 rule doesn't force change. It simply helps you make better decisions.

Elizabeth Rider is a leading nutrition and whole living expert helping women around the world become even more successful by teaching them not just how to live well, but how to become the absolute BEST version of themselves. From personal wellness to career, spirituality to finances -- and more -- consciously cultivating the ideal lifestyle is her religion.

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