Achieve Your Chess Goals Using Warren Buffett’s 5/25 Rule

Achieve Your Chess Goals Using Warren Buffett’s 5/25 Rule

“You can’t be a superstar if you focus on everything.”

From childhood, we’re told it’s important to set goals and achieve them. Yet, while goal-setting is very common, the majority of people never hit them. Instead, they end up with average results. Why is that?

In my mind, there are 2 main reasons.
The first is obvious – laziness, i.e. when people are simply too lazy or unmotivated to properly chase their goals.

But the second reason is more subtle. And, most people are guilty of it, without being aware of it. It’s this:
They have too many goals and they try to chase them all at once...

They want to become a master in chess, learn to play the guitar, be a good husband, travel the world, get a six-pack, learn a new language, start their company, form a band...

With such a long list of goals, they start to wonder why it feels like 24 hours is not enough time in a day. Or, why they’re average at everything they do but haven’t fully accomplished any of their goals.

Unfortunately, many people miss this very important piece of the puzzle, which we’ll talk about today.

In my articles, I always suggest that you should learn from ‘successful people’. Or at least from people who’ve already achieved what you’re aiming to do.


That’s why I want to introduce you to Warren Buffett’s 5/25 rule.
It only takes five minutes to put into practice, but it can help you to maximize your productivity and achieve the most important goals in your life.

I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t share it with you as I know that it can lead to a big boost in your chess and in your life.

Warren Buffett

If you haven’t heard of Warren Buffett, then by now, you may be wondering who he is. Well, Warren Buffett is among the world’s wealthiest people and is the most successful investor of the 20th century.


As the chairman of his company, Berkshire Hathaway, he’s responsible for the well-being of over 390,000 employees.

Given this success, it’s clear to anyone that this is a man who knows how to manage his time effectively and whose advice you should listen to.

Buffett's 5/25 rule

According to a story told by Buffett's personal pilot, Mike Flint, he once asked about what career goals to prioritize.

Buffett told him to do 3 things.

Step 1: Write down your top 25 career goals on a single piece of paper.

Step 2: Circle your top five picks.

Step 3: Put the top five on one list and the remaining 20 on a second list.

(Here's where his advice becomes interesting. I would highly recommend making your lists before continuing to read any further. That way you’ll be shocked and feel the full effect of it.)

Flint duly did as he was told and came up with a list of 25 goals. Then, he circled his five most important and agreed to focus on them.

Not sensing the true lesson that Buffett was trying to teach him, Flint told him that as the remaining 20 goals were still somewhat important, he’d continue to work on them when he had spare time.

How did Buffett respond?

"No. You've got it all wrong, Mike. Everything you didn't circle just became your avoid-at-all-costs list! No matter what happens, these goals should get no attention from you until you've achieved your top 5."

When I read this I was shocked. How about you? Are you frozen, thinking about what you’re doing with your life? I certainly was...

The power of elimination

Every goal you hope to achieve requires time, money, and energy – all of which are finite resources.

If your goal is to raise your rating from 1,900 to 2,000 then it may require 60 minutes of study every day. And if that’s one of your top five goals, then it’s worth doing.

But the beauty of Buffett’s 5/25 rule is that it makes you realize the real cost of spending your resources on less important goals.

Every minute you focus on something else makes it much less likely you’ll achieve the things you truly care about. Regaining this time, energy, and focus is what will help you to avoid distractions and propel you to hit your primary goals.

Is it easy?

It’s easy to let go of things we don’t like.
For example, it’s not a problem to stop going to violin classes because it’s not your dream, but your parents’.

The difficulty is letting go of the things that are not among your top five goals but that you would also like to accomplish. Deep down, you may feel you care about them. But ultimately they’re the ones that are stopping you from finally achieving your most important goals.

Your time is precious and limited. Get rid of waste and be ruthless in eliminating distractions.


The conflict

Some people think that if you’re 40 and have only just learned how to play chess, it’s already too late to become a Grandmaster.

On the other hand, some people shamelessly sell the dream that you can become a Grandmaster, even if you’re 90 and your rating is 1,500. (Just to coach them and make money...)

In my article about how to become a Grandmaster, I already shared my opinion on this. A 10-year-old kid rated 1,500 has a competitive advantage compared to a 40-year-old married man who’s also rated 1,500 – simply because when you’re 10 you have much more time to invest in your growth.

But if you’re 40 and have unlimited time and resources to invest in your chess career, I absolutely believe that you can become a Grandmaster, no matter your age.

So time is one problem. But there’s a second problem too.


If you’re 40-years-old, have kids and a full-time job, but want to become a Grandmaster, you may have so many responsibilities that it becomes very tough to prioritize. And here comes the conflict.
What should you do?

My advice is to take the 5/25 rule as a starting point, not the law.
Your plan might be 7/20 or 3/10. Just be sure to eliminate your secondary goals and make a not-to-do list.

Life is short, but at the same time long enough to accomplish many things. Just don’t try to chase all your dreams at once.


P.S. As always, you can share your thoughts in the comments.

P.P.S. If you’re not a ChessMood student yet, I have three gifts for you:

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