Mental model #1: Second-order thinking

In a world that often rewards quick decisions and immediate results, it's easy to overlook the deeper implications of our choices.

Enter second-order thinking, a powerful mental model that encourages us to look beyond the immediate consequences of our decisions to their subsequent effects.

This approach doesn't just ask, “What will happen?” but rather, “What will happen after that happens?”

By employing second-order thinking, we can make more informed, strategic decisions that account for a broader range of outcomes.

How to put second-order thinking into practice?

Using second-order thinking might feel hard at first, but with practice, it becomes an invaluable skill for making better decisions.

Think through questions & across time

Start by asking questions to think deeply about what happens after you make a decision.

First, find out the immediate result (first-order effect), then keep asking, “And then what?” to discover what comes next (second-order effects and beyond).

This method not only helps you grasp the full scope of your decision's impact but also encourages you to think across time.

Consider the potential consequences in the short term (10 minutes), medium term (10 months), and long term (10 years).

This broader perspective ensures you're fully aware of how your choices might unfold over time, leading to more thoughtful and strategic decisions.

Write it down

Writing down your thoughts helps you understand how decisions lead to different outcomes.

By using a mind map or a a template like the one below, you can better see the immediate and later effects of your choices. This method organizes your thinking and shows the impact of your decisions clearly.

Source: @Feynmanism_

Adopting second-order thinking is tough, which means few people put in the effort.

And that's what makes it so effective, setting you apart from the masses.

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Thanks for reading!

Here's some bonus for making it till the end ;)