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Sorta Random Sunday: The Difference Between Good and Bad Days

We all have good days and we all have bad days. It can be easy to dismiss this as “just the way it is.” But it isn’t.

There is a difference between good and bad days. And it’s often something very small.

Let’s look at this from the standpoint of probability

This is a probability outcomes map for someone flipping an equally weighted coin.

good bad days

Lots of different possible outcomes here.

Now let’s pretend that instead of flipping coins, this is a chart of the type of day that we can have. Now, imagine each heads or “H” on the chart is replaced by “G” or “Good decision.” And “T” for tails is replaced by “B” for bad decision.

The stakes seem a lot higher.

The best day would be the top of the chart (“GGG”) while the worst day would be the bottom on the chart (“BBB”).

What do we notice temporally here?

Well, the most important decision is the first one. Because that has the greatest impact.

Let’s say you only make one good decision all day

If you make this good decision at the first branch point of the day, you end up in the top half AKA “good” half of the good day/bad day chart.

Now, if you make this good decision at the last branch point of the day instead, you had a really crappy day in the lower half of our day chart.

Comparing coin flips and good/bad days

The fatalistic among us may argue that our decisions are predetermined. And the behavioral anarchists can argue that our decisions are exactly like coin flips – random.

I can never prove not but I just don’t see how that can be. And more importantly, I don’t see how believing that can help anyone to live their best lives.

Our decisions are our decisions. And we have them in our control. This is why we fall to the level of our systems instead of rising to the level of our goals.

But only to a degree

Many of our decisions and actions that can give us good or bad days come from our habits.


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Think about your day thus far. You’ve made decisions that required conscious thought. But many more decisions have been made subconsciously. You did things just because that’s what you do. Those behaviors are ingrained by habits.

This is why thinking about our habits is so important. Draw out those subconscious decisions and actions into the conscious. Keep the ones you like. But work on the ones you don’t.

And, if you are going to prioritize habits to adjust, focus first on the ones earlier in your day for maximum impact.

Good days and bad days are in your control

This is exciting the recognize! And this is the healthy mindset that I am always working on.

Let’s look at some examples from my life:

  • I wanted to change my financial habits. So I start each morning by reading one financial blog post. Here are some other simple financial habits I still do…
  • I wanted to read more. So I created a habit of reading 10 pages in a book before bed each night.
  • At work, I wanted to get better at documentation. So I started dictating all of my OR cases immediately after the case ended.

My challenge to you

I challenge you to start creating more good days and eliminating more bad days from your life.

It is never perfect, but we can use this knowledge to create systems and habits that give us the best odds!

What do you think? Are good days and bad days random? Do we have some control? How do you handle your days? Let me know in the comments below!

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    The Prudent Plastic Surgeon

    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected]

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