Jeff Bezos has a system for decision making called the “Regret Minimization Framework.” Basically, Bezos makes all of his decisions while considering how he will view that particular choice when he is X years old. Thus, through the framework, he’s always trying to severely limit any regrets he may have when he is older.

Because he looks at decisions this way, Bezos ended up leaving his job at a well-paying hedge fund when he was younger to start a bookstore on the Internet. I doubt many of you have heard of this company; it goes by the name of Amazon. 😉

How did he come to this decision and make the leap?

Mental Models

Bezos needed a mental model to help him come to the right answer. A mental model is a way to think about the world. This is how we respond and make decisions we encounter in daily life. However, there is no single model that is right for every person, so it is important to understand what works for you.

For Bezos, his mental model for decision-making became the Regret Minimization Framework; a difficult decision turned into an easy one.

The idea is to project yourself into the future and look back on your decision from that perspective. Here is how Bezos describes the system:

I knew that when I was 80 I was not going to regret having tried this. I was not going to regret trying to participate in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a really big deal. I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not ever having tried.

This system is amazing for several reasons. First, it forces you to think beyond the moment and push past all the fears you may be having. Instead, you fast forward and assess things from a "future" perspective.

Second, it is a model you can use throughout your life anytime you face tough decisions. There are variations of the Regret Minimization Framework but having mental models in your toolkit is essential. They will help you make hard decisions, take action, and lead a life aligned with your ideals.

By creating a collection of models based on the principles of your life, decisions will not be a problem. The key is to find ones that work for you.

What mental models do you currently follow? Let me know in the comments below!