Monday, August 12, 2013

A five-year rule

You've heard about the 10-second rule? When you drop food on the floor, if it's been there 10 seconds or less, you pop it into your mouth and cite the 10-second rule!

We should have a five-year rule. This would be for situations we face on a daily or weekly basis, situations that we are just sure are dire and will have long-lasting effects. Sometimes they truly will have a huge impact. Many times, however, our minds get a bit carried away and off into Fantasy Land. We might do a bit of catastrophizing, thinking there's only one right answer and if we get it wrong, dire consequences will follow. Often, that simply isn't true. We may get upset when another person wants to solve the issue in another way. At times, we are so tied to our desired outcome as the only one.

I find it helpful to ask: Five years from now, will this matter? Will what I'm so upset or angry about today even be an issue then? Will the decision I make now really matter one way or the other? Or am I simply all worked up about something that, if I took a longer view, really isn't so huge and consequential after all?

It's easy to attach far more weight to an outcome than might be necessary or wise. Some things really do need our serious attention and careful thought before a decision is made. But lots of things do not. Many we might be able to hold more lightly. The wisdom comes in knowing the difference.

Perhaps using a five-year rule of thumb might help us gain perspective. Ask yourself if it will matter at all in that time—or whether one outcome or another really will matter. Then let go and let life flow.

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