The One Year Test

In stressful times, it’s easy to get derailed by matters that might be viewed as trivial under ordinary circumstances. A colleague shows up late to a Zoom call, the client changes her mind mid-stream, the boss unleashes an unnecessary rant. These infractions can dampen our work productivity on a normal day, but their impact can be even more toxic in times of uncertainty and change.

To battle what can feel like an endless stream of annoyances, try the One Year Test. Fast forward one year in your mind’s eye and ask if you’ll even remember the incident. Probably not, but if so, will it matter in a year’s time? Your imaginary time-travel can instantly put things in perspective when you find yourself sweating the small stuff.

I do this at home, too. If my four-year-old twins are making a ruckus and are in a particular sour mood, my stress level can hastily rise to DEFCON 5. But a quick peek into the future grounds me when I realize the incident will long be forgotten by the time they’re perpetrating new havoc as five-year-olds.

In addition to putting daily annoyances into perspective, the One Year Test can help drive meaningful results. Doing an extra practice round before a big sales presentation may be less amusing in the moment than watching another rerun of Dancing with the Stars, but you’ll sure feel better one year from now if you’d won the Jones account. The One Year Test is a simple and powerful tactic to guide your choices, helping you select options that will drive long-term impact over fleeting short-term pleasures.

From little to big, we make over 1000 decisions each day. Realizing that our success and happiness are nothing more than the compilation of our lifetime’s decisions, the One Year Test can help tip the scales in your favor. Bacon double cheeseburger or a salad? Respond to a situation with compassion or anger? Read a book or watch a cat video? Become enraged or let it go? 365 days from now, which option will you be glad you made?

To make better choices today, let your one-year-from-now-you guide your decisions. Rise above the pettiness of the moment by looking into the future to defuse your angst. While we can all learn from the archives of history, we can also embrace the guiding wisdom of the future.

It doesn’t require a #2 pencil, there’s no study guide, and it’s a test you’ll surely ace. Embrace the One Year Test, and you’ll be well on the way to brighter days ahead.