Back in 1994, Jeff Bezos was newly married, with a comfortable apartment on Upper West Side and a well-paying job. While Mackenzie said she’d be supportive if he decided to strike out on his own, the decision was not an easy one for him.
That’s when Bezos came up with his - Regret Minimization Framework.
“When you’re in the thick of things, you can get confused by small stuff.
I knew that when I was eighty, I would never, for example, think about why I walked away from my 1994 Wall Street bonus right in the middle of the year at the worst possible time.
That kind of thing just isn’t something you worry about when you’re eighty years old.
At the same time, I knew I might sincerely regret not having participated in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a revolutionizing event.
When I thought about it that way… it was incredibly easy to make the decision.”
This framework inspires me on multiple levels.
Firstly, it’s helps to look at your life through the lens of possibility rather than accepting the current state of affairs (which often leads to complacency), no matter how good it may be.
Secondly, the regret minimization framework helps to analyze a critical decision making process instead of blindly saying ‘YOLO’ like an undeveloped teenager’s brain would go.
Bezos' framework forces us to look at the societal reasons that hinders us from taking the big leap and live a life with minimal regrets.
Inspired by the RMF, I’ve come with one of my own principles that I used to guide my actions and take decisions in life and at work.
I call it the Fulfillment Maximization Framework.
When I’m on my death-bed, while I want to have minimal regrets but that is not my focus. I don’t want to brag about how I don’t have any regrets of not doing things I wanted to do.
But rather, I want to be able to talk about all the things that I did that fulfilled me to the core. Even if those actions pissed of a few authorities or led to some miraculous failures in my life.
I know that when I am eighty, I would never, for example, think about how much salary I made in my first job or how much stock equity options I got. That kind of thing isn’t something that gives you fulfillment for the long haul.
But I am taking actions now so as to be able to talk about how I brought about a significant change within the company I worked for that fueled their growth and helped realize their mission.
At the same time, the fulfillment maximization framework is helping me to become self-aware about what fulfills me.
Being able to exercise autonomy at work, pursue mastery, experiment and execute with a strong bias for action, challenge current inefficient processes to improve upon them, and like a missionary help the projects I’m a part of to become a reality - these are some of the things I've come to realize fulfill me the most.
When I approach things through the lens of maximizing fulfillment in my day to day life, I feel attuned to my strengths, core values, and drivers.
That's what I call the fulfillment maximization framework.
As I look back over the last 5 years of my time in the US, I’ve actually been living it too.
For example, back in the fall of 2014, when my health insurance premium went up, I did this campaign called - A Drive To Inspire, where I drove my 2002 Ford Escort ZX2 across 40 US States, 11,000 miles and did pushups to raise awareness about the obesity epidemic.
Those 24 days on the road were the height of fulfillment I had ever experienced in my life.
It is one of my first principles thinking processes that I consistently use to think for myself while making critical decisions in life and at work.
I’m sold on the idea of asking myself “Does this fulfill me?” before deciding on taking ownership of tasks or projects.
I plan on taking continuous actions on it.
But since you're reading this, I'm curious to hear what do you think of the fulfillment maximization framework?
What first principles thinking processes do you live your life by? Would love to hear from you.
Still reading this? Thanks!
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