The 4 forces that guide human decisions: Sex, food, money — and momentum of past decisions.

George Mack

The 4 forces that guide human decisions: Sex, food, money — and momentum of past decisions.

Thought experiment: If you was offered your location, relationship or career to start a fresh in it today — would you still do it?

When you explore these decisions without momentum, you realise where momentum is guiding you — not agency.

If you’re living in a location simply because you was born there — momentum made the decision. If you moved to the best location in the world for you — agency made the decision.

If your career is because of an ignorant decision by your 18 year old self — momentum made the decision. If you’re doing the career that you think you can be the best in the world at or you would pay to do — agency made the decision.

If today was the first month of your relationship and you didn’t have the baggage of the past with this person, would you end it? If so, momentum is making the decision. If you would carry on if today was month one without memories of the past — agency is making the decision.

A fun way to remove the emotion of momentum is to view reality as a video game:

You are not you. You are a video game player — and the person you identify as day to day, is just a character you’re responsible for getting the highest score of. Right now, you’re in a Twitch competition trying to get the highest video game score against 10,000 other players of this video game.

Based on this perspective: Where is the best place in the world for that character to live? What should the character be doing with their time? Who is the best person for them to be dating?

Does that video game design align with your current output? Where is the gap?

When you get to detach and view yourself as a 3rd person, you get to see where the momentum virus exists.

Once you see the momentum virus, you can’t unsee it.

The momentum virus doesn’t just exist at the individual level. Society has them everywhere — you can see this clearly by removing the momentum away from legacy ideas.

Ask this question about legacy ideas: If this idea was introduced today — how would people react?

For example: If student loans didn’t exist — and somebody came up with the following idea:

Career loans targeting young people, where they enter life changing amounts of debt that they can never declare bankruptcy on, and they have to make the decision at the age of 18 before their brain is fully developed without any career experience.

What would the reaction be if this idea didn’t exist today — and someone introduced it?

The idea would be immediately banned and the people running such a scheme would end up in prison...

The legacy idea of student loans is accepted — because it’s accepted. Each year student loans got more insidious gradually — but the idea carries on because it had momentum.

When you remove the momentum away from the idea -- you can see the quality of a legacy idea.

Max Planck once said: “Science advances one funeral at a time”

Munger reacted to Planck’s statement: “If consistency bias applies to the greatest physics minds of each generation, what does it do to average folk like you and me?”

The only way out is to have funerals for momentum. Put a bullet to the momentum with thought experiments like the above — and see who is driving your life: Agency or Momentum?

Are you dating the person simply because you’re dating the person?

Are you choosing the career simply because you chose the career?

Are you living in the place you was born simply because you was born there?

“Looking back at my ambition to become a lawyer, it looks less like a plan for the future and more like an alibi for the present.

It was a way to explain to anyone who would ask—to my parents, to my peers, and most of all to myself—that there was no need to worry.

I was perfectly on track. But it turned out in retrospect that my biggest problem was taking the track without thinking really hard about where it was going.” - Peter Thiel

Table of contents

The 4 forces that guide human decisions: Sex, food, money — and momentum of past decisions.

Thought experiment: If you was offered your location, relationship or career to start a fresh in it today — would you still do it?

When you explore these decisions without momentum, you realise where momentum is guiding you — not agency.

If you’re living in a location simply because you was born there — momentum made the decision. If you moved to the best location in the world for you — agency made the decision.

If your career is because of an ignorant decision by your 18 year old self — momentum made the decision. If you’re doing the career that you think you can be the best in the world at or you would pay to do — agency made the decision.

If today was the first month of your relationship and you didn’t have the baggage of the past with this person, would you end it? If so, momentum is making the decision. If you would carry on if today was month one without memories of the past — agency is making the decision.

A fun way to remove the emotion of momentum is to view reality as a video game:

You are not you. You are a video game player — and the person you identify as day to day, is just a character you’re responsible for getting the highest score of. Right now, you’re in a Twitch competition trying to get the highest video game score against 10,000 other players of this video game.

Based on this perspective: Where is the best place in the world for that character to live? What should the character be doing with their time? Who is the best person for them to be dating?

Does that video game design align with your current output? Where is the gap?

When you get to detach and view yourself as a 3rd person, you get to see where the momentum virus exists.

Once you see the momentum virus, you can’t unsee it.

The momentum virus doesn’t just exist at the individual level. Society has them everywhere — you can see this clearly by removing the momentum away from legacy ideas.

Ask this question about legacy ideas: If this idea was introduced today — how would people react?

For example: If student loans didn’t exist — and somebody came up with the following idea:

Career loans targeting young people, where they enter life changing amounts of debt that they can never declare bankruptcy on, and they have to make the decision at the age of 18 before their brain is fully developed without any career experience.

What would the reaction be if this idea didn’t exist today — and someone introduced it?

The idea would be immediately banned and the people running such a scheme would end up in prison...

The legacy idea of student loans is accepted — because it’s accepted. Each year student loans got more insidious gradually — but the idea carries on because it had momentum.

When you remove the momentum away from the idea -- you can see the quality of a legacy idea.

Max Planck once said: “Science advances one funeral at a time”

Munger reacted to Planck’s statement: “If consistency bias applies to the greatest physics minds of each generation, what does it do to average folk like you and me?”

The only way out is to have funerals for momentum. Put a bullet to the momentum with thought experiments like the above — and see who is driving your life: Agency or Momentum?

Are you dating the person simply because you’re dating the person?

Are you choosing the career simply because you chose the career?

Are you living in the place you was born simply because you was born there?

“Looking back at my ambition to become a lawyer, it looks less like a plan for the future and more like an alibi for the present.

It was a way to explain to anyone who would ask—to my parents, to my peers, and most of all to myself—that there was no need to worry.

I was perfectly on track. But it turned out in retrospect that my biggest problem was taking the track without thinking really hard about where it was going.” - Peter Thiel

More Essays