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  • The Rule of 555

    business-1839191_640The Rule of 555 is simple… It’s all about determining the value and implications of some action or decision.

    This is The Rule of 555 in a nutshell

    When you’re trying to make a decision think about how it will impact you in:

    • Five Days
    • Five Weeks
    • Five Years

    That’s it!

    Pro Tip: You can substitute different time frames to suit your needs.

    There is no wrong answer. This is a thought exercise that allows you to explore options and ideas before making a commitment.

    Future Implications

    The Rule of 555 allows you to imagine a decision in the future. What will be the implications of this decision on your life? And on the lives of others that will be impacted? That’s the simplistic nature of The Rule of 555.

    The Rule of 555 has overlaps to what I call a Step Back Optimism in the sense that you get to project your future situation from the comfort of your own couch.

    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
    ~ Voltaire

    No one can see the future perfectly. But, The Rule of 555 allows you to frame your decision at a point in the future. Then to take your own thinking (possibly combined with trusted advisers) into consideration in order to provide an assessment of the implications in … 5 days, 5 weeks and 5 years.

    Bring in Third Parties

    Not every decision you make requires a deep sanity check. However, there are times where it is wise to bring in additional thinkers. When you have time, and especially when you’re thinking in weeks, months, and years; you have the luxury of being able to bring in third parties for a consultative opinion.

    This is where you turn to your peers, your mentors, your family, and your friends. If you think this decision might impact them in your 555 timeline you may want to get their opinion and ask for their thoughts. That’s just good decision making.

    Everyday Decisions

    Every day we make decisions that impact our lives and the lives of others. Not all of them need additional counsel and not all of them need a framework like The Rule of 555. However, when you’re trying to make a big decision having The Rule of 555 to rely upon is something you can have in your tool belt that will ultimately help you stand out in your career.

    Big Decisions

    Let’s say you’re trying to decide on what your next career step might be, or whether you should take a job out-of-state, or whether you should buy that house.

    How to use The Rule of 555

    It’s very easy. Take out a piece of paper and write down four columns.

    • Column One is the decision
    • Columns 2, 3 and 4 are the timeline.

    For example;

    • Decision: Buy a new house.
    • Timeline: 5 weeks; 5 months; 5 years
    • Action: Write down your thoughts in each column.

    A lot of decisions may cross your mind as you think about these five timelines for this decision.

    I’m not going to go through it in monstrous detail, but I want to hit some of the highlights that you might have to go through as you make your decision to buy a new house.

    • 5 Weeks – Can you get the cash together to make an offer? This assume you’ve already gone through the decision process of whether it’s the right house, the right neighborhood, the right price range, and a dozen other decisions.
    • 5 Months – Can you imagine yourself living comfortably in the house you decided upon? After making the down payment will you have enough left over to make your monthly payment and still eat?
    • 5 Years – Is this the neighborhood that is up-and-coming and will increase in value enough to give you a decent return on your investment? Do you even consider a house and investment?

    These are just a few of the decisions that might go through your head as you apply The Rule of 555 when considering buying a house.

    A similar set of thinking might go into deciding on a new career or whether you should go back to graduate school.

    You Will Never Have Perfect Knowledge

    There are very few cases in this world where we know everything and every eventuality. Using The Rule of 555 can help you think about some of the possibilities. If you have a little time to think through them and if you have time to bring in 3rd parties your anxiety related to making a decision can be somewhat tamped down.

    As a rule of thumb – Gather as much information as you can. Thinking through every possibility you can.

    • Ask friends
    • Ask mentors
    • Ask peers
    • Search the interwebs.

    Eventually … you will need to make a decision. The Rule of 555 is here to help.

    Knowledge is literally prediction …
    Knowledge is anything that increases your ability to predict the outcome.
    ~ Daryl Morey (Houston Rockets) in Michael Lewis’ book “The Undoing Project

    Putting The Rule of 555 to Work

    The good news is you can analyze all these thoughts today with a picture of the future in mind. If the future view doesn’t look right perhaps this is not the right decision for you. At least not right now. The good news is you’re evaluating these decisions today with the picture of the future in mind. Nothing is set in stone yet. You still have time to adjust. Choose Wisely!


    Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2. He is currently consulting with Microsoft and partners to drive Community Engagement and Alliances. Follow him on Twitter @jshuey or on LinkedIn: in/JeffShuey

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    Posted in Career Development, Personal Branding, Success Strategies
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