I’ve got to hand it to my Dad. He taught me some amazing things that I hope to some day teach to my kids. His wisdom looks more and more clear as I look back on my life and the last 15 years of my career.
He has always been a great sounding board for me and one of the things he taught me early in my career was you’ve got to live by the “10 Year” rule if you want to be happy and avoid regret.
What is this “10 year” rule? It’s really quite simple. It’s all about perspective. Nothing is ever as bad (or oftentimes conversely, as good) in hindsight as we think it is in that moment. You will be faced with the opportunity to apply this rule many, many times in your career and it will only get worse as you assume more and more responsibility. It’s really quite simple and it goes a little something like this:
Given the choice to do two or more things, do the thing you’ll most wish you had done 10 years from now!
It really is as simple as that. The actual decision may not be that easy in the moment, but if you take a step back and try to put things in this context, it will often provide a moment of clarity to help light your way forward.
Here’s a few quick examples:
- It’s Friday night and your boss has asked you to stay late to wrap a few things up. Things that could easily be taken care of over the weekend so they are ready to go by start of business Monday morning. You already have dinner plans with your wife scheduled for your anniversary that night, unbeknownst to your boss. 10 years from now, what will matter most? Happy wife, happy life right?
You should at least talk to your boss about your planned events and make sure he or she knows what you’re giving up if you stay late at their request and then you should probably still make sure you arrive at that anniversary dinner with bells on with your wife.
- Your son has an all star Little League game Saturday night, but you have a software deployment that will likely still be going on. It’s his first all star game and he’s the starting pitcher. You should plan ahead and see if you can delegate to someone on your team or switch support duties with one of your peers if you’re not the boss. You can be available by cell phone and with your laptop and air card should anything truly catastrophic happen.
You’ve worked hard to make yourself indispensable but that shouldn’t keep you from being there for a significant moment both you and your Son will remember 10 years, no…decades from now. Nobody will remember that you skipped the game to make sure the software deployment went well and your boss will probably long ago have stopped being your boss, but you and your Son’s relationship is forever.
Living the GRODT lifestyle is all about working hard so you can take the time to enjoy these “10 year” moments, even if you still haven’t quite achieved total financial freedom yet.
Make sure you keep your priorities in the right place. Believe it or not, it will help you develop good habits of keeping things in perspective when you or members of your team, especially when you’re the boss, have to answer these tough questions.
Remember, achieving financial freedom and unshackling the golden handcuffs of Corporate America will mean nothing to you if the price you had to pay to achieve it was never being around to create great memories with those you love and care about.
What examples of tough choices like this have you had to make? Did you do the right thing?
Let us know in the comments below.
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