The Long-Term Impact of Today’s Decisions

I am a very goal-oriented person, which has definitely helped me as an entrepreneur and small business owner. This particular trait has also helped me as a parent, spouse and member of the community.

From an early age I have evaluated important decisions in life from the perspective of being eighty years old. “When I am eighty,” I ask myself, “how will I look back on this situation? Will I be happy with my decision? Will I have serious regrets?”  

Why eighty? Probably because, as a child, I did not know anyone who had lived that long! Today, I know that neither of my parents reached eighty – so it still works for me. If I need to use a higher age one day, I will be fortunate indeed.

Using this question as one facet of decision-making has served me well. By pretending that I am looking back on my decision from the future, I have gotten perspective:

  • Potential long-term gains are clearer. At 21, the investment of time and money in graduate school was daunting. When imagining myself as an eighty-year-old, those challenges seemed smaller versus the benefits.
  • There is more incentive to change. After all, across a lifetime, what are a few months, or years of investment in achieving a dream? Four times I have moved forward with my life by physically moving to a totally new geographic location with new people. Only the first was a mistake – and I learned from it.
  • Self-deception is stripped away. Honesty is required to face long-term implications, which are too easily overlooked with a shorter view.  How does this decision fit with my long-term goals? Will the there be a negative impact on the values I hold dear (e.g. honesty, integrity, compassion)?
  • The strong likelihood of unexpected circumstances is easier to accept. We would expect any eighty-year-old to have a life full of surprises, both good and bad.
  • God’s perspective may be easier to recognize. As a Christian, I want this to be an integral part of my life.

What decisions are you pondering right now?  

How will you make them?

Until we meet again –
The Entrepreneur’s Friend

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The Entrepreneur’s Friend® is a registered trademark of Wheaton Consulting Group LLC.   Photo credits: All photos were taken by Cynthia Wheaton and owned by Wheaton Consulting Group LLC except as noted. Coffee cup art by Jim Wheaton.   Author support: Fellow authors from The Wrinklings and Light of Carolina Christian Writers Group.