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The Rule of Non-Recurring Events

Conventional wisdom—in fact rules of any kind – are a challenge to me. In Myers-Briggs terms, I’m a very high “N” (Intuitive), and in our own Trust Temperaments,
I rate as a Catalyst. Some rules are fine, like the laws of gravity, and the requirement that in the US we drive on the right-hand side of the road. Others, like speed limits, I tend to see as merely suggestions or guidelines.

That having been said, there’s one “rule” for decision-making that I’ve found enormously useful over the years.

That is The Rule of Non-recurring Events, and its corollary, Eat Outdoors Every Chance You Get.   Simply put, this means that every time you get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you take it. Attending the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics in person or watching it on television? No contest. Dragging yourself to your 20th high school reunion or going to a movie? The reunion wins; the movie will be out on Blue-ray, but your 20th reunion will never come again.

What makes this rule so worthwhile? First, it vastly simplifies decision-making when two or more events conflict. You just ask yourself: which is closer to being a non-recurring event, and your decision is made. It helps clarify tradeoffs.

Second, it reduces your regret quotient to almost nothing. The Beijing Olympics example comes from a friend of mine from Singapore, who opted to stay home rather than hassle the trip to China, and missed the world-class spectacular. And if your 20th reunion is about as much fun as senior English class was (no fun at all) at least you went, and have no regrets about missing it. And you’ll probably get a few funny stories out of it. It’s like a bad blind date; the worst experiences often yield the best funny stories.

The third, and probably biggest, benefit is that it helps us live in the moment, to have adventures, to stay out of ruts. It helps answer the question from the poet Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  

So I’m going to grab my sandwich and cup of coffee and eat outdoors; this particular perfect sunny day will not come my way again.

This post is written by:

Sandy Styer

Sandy Styer is TAA's practice leader for the Trust Quotient, Trust Quotient 360 and Trust Temperament service offerings, and Trust Audit services. You can read more about her here. You can follow Sandy on Twitter @sandystyer

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  • Andrea Howe

    I’m not sure why I’m only just now seeing this blog post (?!) I guess the timing was right, as I’m looking at ways to be more productive in my daily life, and toward that end looking for ways to be more focused and decisive. It seems I am *always* plagued by what seem like tough “either/or” choices. Thank you for giving me a simple test at just the right time!

  • Sandy Styer


    My pleasure!

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