Three F-Words to Know


In life, we make a lot of decisions. Sometimes they’re easy and many times they’re not so easy. About 10-years ago, I started using three “F” words as a filter to help me make a number of decisions. The three words are Fame, Fortune and Fun and I call this the “3-F” Rule. It’s really simple and I’ve used it a lot. I really wish I had used it sooner in life!

Here’s how it works: Simply put, many things in life that we elect to do should (hopefully) bring us one or more of the “F” words — Fame, Fortune and/or Fun. So, before electing to do something, take a minute to consider if that decision will bring you one or more of these three words. This can apply in work, school or even socially. If something is associated with FAME (being recognized, enhancing your reputation, credibility, etc.), it might be worth doing. If a decision brings FORTUNE (compensation of any kind), that might be worthwhile, even if brings nothing else of value. And finally, if something brings FUN into your life, that might be enough justification because we all should opt to do things that bring happiness, cheer, good memories… (making you smile).

(NOTE: decisions should be made carefully and you should always consider all repercussions associated with any decision you make. Using the Three “F” Words is simply and an added filter to help you with decision-making and by no means should it be the only filter you use for decisions. Obviously, some decisions have nothing to do with the three F’s and this does not apply and you should always, above all, use common sense.)

Let’s break it down further…

FAME:  If something brings you fame, recognition, valuable publicity, credibility, or otherwise enhances your reputation, you should consider that option seriously.   Here is an example:

  • At work or school, you might have an option to get involved with an organization or committee that takes additional time out of your schedule, but gives you important recognition that you can use on your resume.   This role may not pay anything and it may not be particularly fun, but you might elect to take it due to the value of the corresponding FAME.
  • You are asked to either write or provide ideas and input for a publication of some sort. You make no money and it may not be fun, but your name is published that alone will generate some value for you.

FUN:  If something brings you FUN (enjoyment, pleasure…), it’s often worth doing even if the decision brings no FORTUNE or FAME.   If it makes you smile, that often is enough to make that decision worthwhile. Here is an example:

  • You are given the option to take unpaid time off and travel (from either school or work). Obviously, being away from work would affect you financially and you would get no recognition for traveling. BUT, knowing that the traveling would create amazing memories (and generally be fun), you should consider taking the trip. Having fun is often enough reason to make a decision like this (as long as you’re being sufficiently responsible).

FORTUNE:  If a decision brings you FORTUNE (money or other compensation), that may be enough justification to elect that decision. Money may be one of the most common drivers for making a decision because we all know that making money is very important! But, in a lot of cases, earning money brings us little FAME or FUN. So, think about this one carefully… Be careful to make decisions that are only based on FORTUNE too often and be sure to equally balance FUN and FAME in your decision-making.  Remember that many FORTUNE-related decisions could also include some aspects for FUN and/or FAME, so be sure to look for those aspects too.

  • The most common FORTUNE-related decision relates to jobs.   It is very common for people to elect the job that pays the highest regardless of other factors (including moving to a city that’s less desirable, doing work that is boring / uninteresting, etc.). Again, be careful of being too focused on the FORTUNE motivation because it can seriously suppress the two other F’s that are very important.

Decisions become easier when the options brings you more than one of the three “F” Words. Obviously, choices that give you 2 or 3 “F” words are very desirable (but, as you would imagine, less common).

Here are some 2 and 3 “F” Word Examples:

  • A travel magazine wants to hire you to travel around Europe and write about it. For this job, you would make less money that your standard desk job, but given that you it would be FUN (and even possibly generate some component of FAME), it’s probably a no-brainer to make this decision. A decision like this brings at least 2 of the 3 F’s (and potentially all three). Sign me up!!
  • You are offered an unpaid internship with a major TV station. With this role, you’ll meet TV talent and actors from Hollywood. While this option doesn’t pay, if you can afford to be unpaid, you should chase this opportunity because it brings FAME and FUN with the potential for FORTUNE down the road.

You get the idea. The 3-F Rule will help you with literally hundreds of decision-making scenarios.

I have found that the 3-F Rule works best in school or at work. But I have also applied it with other decisions. It applies often but, as you can imagine, it doesn’t always apply. I suggest simply adding it to the consideration set and using it as an extra tool.

Good luck making better decisions more easily. May the “3-F” rule help make you Smarter Sooner! And, as always, I’d love to hear what you think about this concept and if it’s helped you make any decisions lately.

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