The mental flaw that will hold you back from success if you let it

I spent the first 15 years of my career as a television news anchor. During that time my job was not to make you a successful entrepreneur. I only had one job – keep watching you.

News reporters know that recent events attract public attention, especially if the events are surprising. Cognitive scientists even have a name for it: recency bias.

Recency bias means that our brains give more weight to recent events. But as Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman points out, giving more weight to recent events than the long-term average can lead to poor decisions.

The illusion of novelty is all around us.

Some, even professional analysts, predicted that the stock market would collapse into a ‘bear market’, a drop of at least 20 percent. According to wall street journalat the beginning of the year, investors’ expectation Shares to return 17.5 percent as they base their outlook on the market’s recent performance. Investors noticed everything moving up – including crypto stocks that have been liquidated – and assumed the recent trends would continue. Then fell down.

While it’s hard to avoid being overly pessimistic or overly optimistic because of what is happening today, there are many ways to train your brain to make more rational decisions based on long-term averages.

1. Know your history.

When people attach too much importance to recent events, it colors their judgment about the future. The stock market is a good example of this. Investors who predicted a 17 percent return this year ignored the fact that the stock market’s long-term average return is just under 10 percent.

Warren Buffett is a successful investor and business leader as he is an avid history student. Buffett’s famous investment advice “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy” acknowledges two things: People act in groups, and recent events will not last.

2. Learn about cognitive biases.

You cannot identify cognitive biases until you know what they are and how they act on your brain.

Start with Daniel Kahneman’s books like thinking, fast and slowand his most recent book, Noise, Kahneman and his co-partner, Amos Tversky, pioneered the field of behavioral economics and introduced the term “cognitive bias”, mental defects in judgment that adversely affect our decisions.

His books are a good place to start your education on prejudice.

3. Spend your time knowingly.

We all know that social media feeds can send us down a rabbit hole. So, be intentional about how you spend your time and where you focus your energy.

For example, every morning, I read wall street journal As well as books, articles and newspapers from sources and experts that I trust because of their long-standing track record.

My career as a newscaster also taught me to balance the bad with the good and keep track of the progress every day under the radar. i have a stack of books i call progress books like steven pinkers enlightenment now or Hans Rosling factualityWhich explains why the world is better than we think.

Bad news happens fast. Progress is gradual and it’s easy to miss until you look for it.

4. Pursue an adventurous, expansive mission.

Companies often have big, bold mission statements. And you should too.

In take charge of you By sports performance coach Jason Goldsmith and Yum Brands co-founder David Novak, both experts recommend identifying the one thing that will make the biggest difference in your life. They call this the “Single Biggest Thing:” a goal or vision that will bring you the most pleasure, both professionally and personally.

Your daily decisions will bring you closer to achieving the single greatest thing.

When I voluntarily left a six-figure job during the economic downturn, many people around me said I was making a bad decision because they were focused on recent events. I didn’t realize it then, but thankfully I was pursuing my SBT – to become a globally recognized writer and communication expert.

By becoming aware of the powerful psychological forces at work in your life, you will stand a better chance of identifying the mental biases that may be holding you back from success, and empowered to eliminate their potentially negative effects.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.