How to tell what's really important: use the "down the road" test

One axiom that has risen to the top for me is, "Don't sweat the small stuff." Being able to separate what's really important from what's simply bugging me or clamoring for attention is a critical skill for negotiating life when there is so much coming at us on a daily basis. 

Take your phone for example. Which platform should you work with? iPhone? Droid? Something else? And once you get your phone, which apps are the best ones to use? How useful will this phone be in keeping you abreast of what's happening in your personal world and in the world at large?

So many choices. So little time.

How do you weed out the truly important from the unimportant? Here's a took I recently found in Real Simple magazine's September 2015 issue: use the "down the road" test. This means asking,
How important will this be a few years down the road?
Real Simple asked five thinkers to identify something we stress over that won't be a big deal down the road. All five responses are full of wisdom. Sheryl Wudunn, a Puhlitzer Prize-winning author, counsels us not to sweat "Problems of Privilege." She means things like choosing which smartphone to get, being hurt because we didn't get invited to a party, being annoyed because we didn't get the best price on a flight, and so on. Wudunn concludes,
The little things can cause stress and crowd the big picture. You may miss a real opportunity to solve a problem or make a difference in the world.
Christians share a beautiful calling to participate with God in making a difference in the world. Jesus called the big picture "the kingdom of heaven." If we don't want to miss opportunities that pop up in our everyday world, we can use the "down the road" test to separate what is important from what isn't. Having coffee with that homeless person may be far more important than how clearly you make your point in your next work meeting.


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