When you have to make a potentially life-changing decision, use the Rocking Chair test. It’s simple and highly effective.
Imagine a much older version of yourself, near the end of your days. You are sitting in a rocking chair on a quiet porch, reflecting back on your life. All that matters is whether you are proud of the decisions you made and the actions you took.
Sitting in your rocking chair, which decision will make you happy?
Big decisions often require short-term sacrifices. To get into the Olympics, you have to sacrifice most of the fun and games of your childhood. To earn a 4.0 in school, you have to sacrifice most of your social life. You might have to travel incessantly to earn a promotion or close a deal.
The Rocking Chair test puts these sacrifices in perspective. In the scheme of your life, is it worth a few months – or years – of sacrifices in order to accomplish something big?
The answer isn’t always yes. Picturing yourself in a rocking chair, you may decide that family is more important than money, that time with the people you love is worth more than any promotion or job.
I’m not sure why, but it can be a lot easier to look into the heart of an older version of yourself than to simply ask of the present you, “What do I want?”