5-25 Rule


Have you heard of Warren Buffett's 5-25 rule? It's a way of helping focus time, intentions, energy to increase productivity and ultimately happiness. You make a list of the 25 things you want to accomplish in your lifetime. Now this can be applied to your career, your personal life, your wardrobe, anything you can imagine. Anything that's important to you, anything that takes up your time and energy. I chose to make my list all-encompassing (mainly because I had trouble coming up with 25 'professional' things and 25 'personal' things. So I combined them all in to one master list. Once you have your list of 25, circle the 5 that are most important to you. Or, in my case, cross off the 20 things that are of least importance. For me, it worked better this way to eliminate the bottom of the list first. Then forget about the other 20. Just let them fall away and don't even think about them anymore. 

Here's one thing that Warren Buffett's rule didn't take in to account: priorities change. Weeks, months, years, you priorities will change. Those five things you circled may not be what you want anymore. They may not be your top 5 things. And that's OK. You're allowed to change you mind. Adjust. Reassess. 


I tried this 5-25 rule three times over the course of one month. And my list was different every time. Most of the 25 things were the same (with a few exceptions), but my top 5 varied pretty drastically. I did the list once and a week later decided to try it again because I was feeling completely different about my priorities. Then, when the top 5 things were almost completely different, I decided to wait another week and do it again. From there, I took those 15 things (the top 5 from each time I did the list) and circled the top 5 from there. Maybe I'm a little crazy, maybe I love lists, maybe I'm just really thorough, but it really worked for me that 3rd time.

What startled me about my 5 things was how I had been spending so much time on things I had crossed off. So much energy and effort placed in areas I didn't consider to be my top 5. And 5 is a lot, you know? 5 is a great number of things to accomplish. So why was I consistently spending so much time on so many other things? I'm working through this question but so far my answer is this: I don't know myself well enough. I don't know what I want, who I want to be, or where I want to go with my life. If you're trying to come up with your 5 things and feeling incredibly stuck, I have one simple suggestion:

Read. And make sure you feel every feeling. I've taken on this new practice of reading scores of books, articles, magazines, etc about the things that interest me. If some particular piece evokes a deep sensation (usually ending in tears or goosebumps), I read more. If something doesn't light me up in that way, I set it aside and focus on something else. But the key is, I think, to keep reading those things that give you all the feelings. Keep being inspired, stay in awe, motivated, determined. Otherwise the things you set aside will creep up again and try to steal your attention. Don't let that happen. Focus on what fills you up. And don't be afraid to toss aside something that doesn't. Or once did. Or deserves a break.

Have you tried this?? I would love to hear how it affected your priorities. Or, if you're feeling generous, share your top 5 things and we can cheer you on together!