Build your mental map carefully

We all carry around a “map of the world” in our mind — a map that represents life, as we believe it to be. We build this map by observing the outside world with our senses, and interpreting the data. When we make a decision, we consult our map and act accordingly.

For example: assume you wish to become a vice president of a Wall Street investment bank. One man’s mental map says that you should take an entry level job at the firm, gain promotions, and rise the ranks internally. Another man’s mental map says that you should run for local government, become an elected official, join a finance committee, and transfer into the job.

In order to make smart decisions, you need to build as accurate a map of reality as possible. If your mental map is inaccurate, you will make bad decisions and experience bad outcomes — just as when you have a bad nautical map, you will run ashore.

Where do bad sections of your mental map come from? Mental health ailments (obsessions, delusions, personality and mood disorders, cognitive distortions, phobias, fears, unresolved childhood angst), however minute, alter how reality is perceived and cause your map to be built in an irrational way.