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5 by 5 Rule

by Akash Khatri

November 1, 2020

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A very close friend introduced me to this coincidentally 5 years back after I had been ranting about my messy day. Since then life has been a bit simpler, it goes like, “If it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes upset by it.”

It didn’t make sense to me the first time too. Sounds pretty simple on paper I know, it’s difficult in reality. You won’t get used to it overnight, it will surely take a while but I promise once you do, things just seem to sort themselves.

Things fall apart, they always do. I think it’s the basic law of human living. You will have challenges, changes and trials. It’s a part and parcel of a game called life. You need to accept the ugly bitter pills just like the sweet candies. It’s just the way it is supposed to be maybe. It can’t be flowers and rainbows all the way. There might be days with a little blood, tears and sweat too but it will all be worth it in the end.

Sometimes decision fatigue gets overwhelming. When you can’t really think what to do, whether to keep thinking about something or not. At such times the 5 by 5 rule comes to the rescue. You can’t care about everything and anything; you have to choose what to care about. The only way to filter is this. It is highly effective in the long run and this is me talking from personal experience, tried and tested.

It can be applied from the tiniest snarky comment someone passed on your dress to your workplace issues. Whenever in doubt, just ask yourself once “will it matter in the next five years?” if yes, work on it, find a solution, leave no stone unturned for it but if you get an answer in the negative, drop it right there. You will soon realize that what anyone else thinks about the colour of your dress or your new hairstyle or your handwriting won’t ever matter, they won’t even remember it after a week or so but you somewhere it might leave a mark on your heart and you would continue pondering over their nasty remarks.

My heart always got the better of my brain while making decisions, it’s not bad but equilibrium is necessary. This rule helped me get a perspective around issues. Those gigantic dilemmas weren’t that bad. I realized a lot of issues had very simple solutions. You just had to know the trick to handle.

Neil Armstrong once said, “I believe that every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine.” We all have limited time. We have to make our choices, they might not always be wise but mistakes are the greatest teachers.

This has become my life’s litmus test. It saved me from a lot of futile thinking; I hope it helps you declutter too.

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