Allocating Resources Using the Health, Wealth, and Love Model

You have limited time, money, and energy. Of all the things to do in the world, you can do approximately none of them.

Most of the decisions we make on a regular basis are decisions on how to allocate our scarce time, money, and energy. That's why I think it's time to introduce a broad heuristic for making these decisions.

If you already have some goal for your life beyond "be happy," like "write a book" or "build a profitable company from scratch" then allocate as much of your resources toward that as you can.

If you just want to be happy, then ask yourself the following question:

"When it comes to my physical health, my financial independence, and the quality of my relationships, which is my weakest link?"

Then, whenever you're faced with a decision, answer it based on that one criterion.

(Another way of putting this is: don't just weigh the costs and benefits. Weigh them in perspective of your weakest links.)

Example: Once Upon a Cookie

I was in NYC a couple weeks ago to see friends and family. One of my closest friends had spent 5 months in Budapest and was moving to New York for the summer. She came down early to catch me and we had a day to spend together, our first time since December.

We got tickets to see Once, a play with fantastic music and a bland story, first thing in the morning. When we came back to the theater district in the evening, we found we had half-an-hour before the play began. Rachel had the idea to go to a cookie shop called Schmackary's two blocks away.

As now, I was in training for my first triathlon and was trying to eat clean. Cookies are not clean. So I had a choice. I could go on this half-hour adventure with Rachel to try a new cookie place or I could keep my sweets-free streak going, but not both. (Also note that the cookie would cost money.)

What to do? I broke out my heuristic and asked myself which I was lacking most:

Health, money, or quality relationships?

At the time, the answer was clear: quality relationships. I decided I was better off sharing the experience of running through midtown at night in the rain on a quest for cookies with my friend than to keep us in the theater, bored, waiting for the show to start just to avoid eating refined sugar and to save a couple bucks.

Don't agonize over this stuff. Just consider where you're lacking in Health, Wealth, and Love and try to compensate to fix the problem.