Ten Things That Won’t Matter In Ten Years’ Time – And Ten Things That Will

Image courtesy of Pawel Maciejewski

You’re stressed, overworked, and tired. You feel like you’re dropping the ball on so many things. You find yourself lying awake in the early hours, thinking about those items still on your to-do list, those emails not yet cleared.

One day, some little incident makes you blow up. For me, it was my printer malfunctioning and my stapler breaking in the middle of a very busy week, when I was trying to sort out some last-minute handouts for my post-grad classmates.

Have you ever heard the phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff”? There are so many things that we waste huge amounts of energy on (and worry is always wasted energy), which just won’t matter in a week, let alone ten years.

Here are ten examples of things you might be stressing about today that will not matter a jot in ten years’ time:

1. That embarrassing misspelling in the email you just sent
2. The jerk who cut you up on your way into work
3. How clean your kitchen is when your mother-in-law comes to visit
4. One of your kids acting up
5. A nasty email from a stranger
6. Missing a deadline
7. Losing out on a job interview to a better candidate
8. Slipping up on grocery shopping and offering your family a choice of cereal or sandwiches for dinner, one night
9. Making a small mistake in a report – and being called up on it by a client
10. Your library books being overdue

So what are you going to pour your energy into instead? There are a number of things you might want to concentrate on, including your family, your health and your dreams for the future. So these are ten things which will matter in ten years’ time. Some of them need to be done on a consistent, daily basis for you to really see effects:

1. Writing down your goals
2. Working at the times of day when you’re most productive and energetic
3. Telling your kids and partner that you love them
4. Eating plenty of fruit and veggies
5. Going for a half-hour walk – sunshine, fresh air and exercise!
6. Getting up early to work on something that really matters to you
7. Painting a watercolour, writing a poem, or knitting a jumper
8. Doing something unexpected (but that you know will be welcomed) for your partner
9. Spending time learning and practising a new skill
10. Taking time for yourself, to think, pray or meditate

The things on this second list are the ones that will really matter, long term. Instead of worrying over some little mistake at work or in your home life, think about your actions that build up to a bigger picture. Did you get any exercise today? Did you take the time to prepare healthy, tasty meals? Did you work on anything that you felt truly fired-up and inspired about?

Focus your attention on the things that will matter in ten years – not the tiny ups and downs of your day that you’ll have forgotten about in a week or two.

After all, what would you rather look back on in 2019 – ten years of a stressing over a clear email inbox and a tidy house, or ten years when you made huge strides towards accomplishing your goals?

If you’ve got any of your own “won’t matter” and “will matter” tasks to add to the lists, let us know them in the comments.

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51 Responses to Ten Things That Won’t Matter In Ten Years’ Time – And Ten Things That Will

  1. Shanel Yang says:

    I have heard that phrase … and I read the book by the same title. And, you know what? It ends, “And it’s all small stuff!” Maybe it is if the author was trying to say there’s no use sweatin’ any of it (stressin’ about it too much) because ultimately whatever will be will be. (Another cool saying — and song!)

  2. Thanks for the great post Ali, you have reminded me what is most important at the end of a hellish week. So rather than spending a weekend stressing . . . I am going to take my family bushwalking!

    Kind Regards,

    Matthew Bibby.

  3. Prashant says:

    Good thoughtful post Ali.

    It pays to stop,gauge the situation and then decide how relevant it is in our life. Sometimes the tiny details end up making indelible marks in our life than the bigger ones.

    The article is very relevant in today’s fast track world.

    Keep empowering.

  4. Thank you for the very informative post. I just wish I could paint :o)

    I committed myself to walking 30 minutes per day and waking up early to work on my limiting beliefs.

    Love your strategy – in fact I am going to write them down and place them in front of my desk.

    Best wishes,

    Hani Al-Qasem

  5. Omar says:

    I needed this. I was in depression mode. What I’m stressing isn’t important.


  6. Glen Allsopp says:

    Great post Ali! Just out of interest (this might be better for the PTB owners) why is the font all in italics and tiny? I think some readers will find it hard to read, I’m struggling myself…


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  8. WillCout says:

    Great man… and I know that some things are easy to speak than done, but I’m happy that I’m on the right way… I really care about things in the 2nd list man… I’m a little sad that I’m just ending graduate and without job, but in the same time I have a great Mom that is supporting me for while(paying my bills…hehe) I’ve sptopped smoking since 1 month ago, and I’m learning english and French, and I’m not going to the gym have 3 months ago, but I’m still working out at home everyday at least 20 minutes, some push-ups and abdominals… I’m sure that now I can be a little upset somethimes, but always thinking positive and doing things that make me happy…Including smoking marijuana sometimes… that’s all… good to read your posts, is helping me with english skills man! I can’t believe that I’m learning it. Woe BTW I used to read to and now reading ” How to win friends and Influence people – Dale Cranegie” that I really recommend to all.
    Ps: sorry my mistakes in english and feel free to correct them guys.
    Peace out! and Have a great Weekend! Good vibes from Rio – Brasil

  9. And don’t forget…letting the people you love and in whom you believe, know that fact….that’s irreplaceable.

    Data points, Barbara

  10. Fran says:

    I don’t get it. All the items in the first list are isolated incidents, and all the things in the second are habits. If you habitually do the things in the first list, it will matter in 10 years.

    That said, I agree that consistently doing the things in the second list will improve your life.

  11. Kerberos says:

    > 2. The jerk who cut you up on your way into work

    You mean cut you off?
    Otherwise you won’t be thinking things in 10 years time since you’ll be kindoff dead. 😉

  12. Garlin says:

    I struggle with focusing on the “big stuff”without neglecting the details of what I do day-to-day. Several of the examples in the “small stuff” have to do with details.

    How do people resolve this tension?

  13. GP says:

    i’m such a time monger.. afraid i wont get it all done and my horse trainer says “at 10:30 tonite will it matter”? Has given me some good perspective on what’s important

    git ‘r done

  14. Very creative post! Thanks for sharing.

    “No self. No Problem,” said the Buddhist Master when asked to explain the deeper meaning of Buddhism.” Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle

  15. Good point. We need to focus our energy on positive things and all those simple stuff that make us feel better.
    Worry drains a lot of our mental energy, which we use to achieve our goals.

  16. Vincent says:

    Hi Ali,

    This article serve as a great reminder that we should forgo things that won’t matter in 10 years time and spend more of our energy that matters. It somehow reminds me of the 80/20 rule.

    Personal Development Blogger

  17. Ryan Kilfoil says:

    Hi Ali

    Fantastic post and thanks for sharing your inspirational ideas. Even though we all should be focusing on the things in the second list, it can be all too easy to lose that focus, so reminders like this are very welcome.

    All the best!

    Ryan Kilfoil
    The Kiwi Millionaire

  18. Looking back 10 years… those on the second list got me where I am today.

    Except for this one — 7. Painting a watercolour, writing a poem, or knitting a jumper

    Can’t really write a poem!

  19. Ali Hale says:

    Fantastic! Hope you and your family had a brilliant weekend, and that this week goes much better for you.

  20. Ali Hale says:

    Hi Glen,

    I’m afraid I don’t have any control over the font… will shoot the editor of PTB an email, I expect it’s just something gone a bit odd in the HTML code!

    Cheers for pointing it out,


  21. Ali Hale says:

    Kerberos, you’ve just brought home to me yet another example of UK English and US English differing! Here in the UK, we say “he cut me up” for “he cut me off” (see the first sentence at http://www.safermotoring.co.uk/DealingWithAggresiveDrivers.html).

    Will remember that one in future – it’s not a phrase I’ve ever used in a blog post before!

  22. Ali Hale says:

    I wrote a “serious” (ie not one for a greetings card) poem for the first time in about eight years last week, and I’m now tempted to agree, it’s a darn sight harder than it looks. And I felt like I should’ve been doing something more useful (like laundry). Still, I suspect there’s a chance that in ten years time I’ll remember the poem rather than any one morning spent doing laundry…

  23. It’s amazing what power we give to the top ten things that don’t matter, as we let them distract us from what really matters. This is one of the many reasons why self improvement is helpful. Self improvement can help us make a distinction or two of what is important – so we can focus on what does matter. It will make a world of difference in the end.

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  26. Thinking about your goals in life is the most important one. Once you have done this it will automatically guide your other important actions and you will be more relaxed about the other less important items.

    The next step then is to create some time during which you work on the achievement of your goals.

  27. I am pleased to say that I’ve practiced most of your list for what will matter for decades. Eating fruit and veggies and walking are two that I’ve done well for a period and became inconsistent at other times.

    Speaking of poetry as lasting–when I was churning out poems as a child my mother insisted that I write them down and date them in a spiral notebook. Over forty years later I still have those poems in their original form (although the cover and spiral have long disappeared)and now have them on my computer where I can make them a gift for my kids and grandkids.

    I am amazed and grateful for my mother’s insight.

  28. As a psychotherapist / coach who believes most mental illnesses are “self-generated,” I believe wholeheartedly in the above lists as a way to take care of ourselves – daily! Delivering a hefty dose of “this isn’t going to matter 10 years from now” into your brain is such a great reminder that by staying in a perpetual state of “I don’t like…” will create a very unhappy, unloving, uncaring, depressed and anxious person.

    Thanks for a great post!!

  29. Julian says:

    True, true – I’m going for a walk right now!

  30. Anca says:

    You are perfectly right: we are stressed because of the big picture (didn’t want to mention the financial crisis, sorry) and we become more and more stressed for a lot of insignificant things that, in the end do not matter anymore and belong to the past. “que sera, sera, whatever will be will be” let’s live our lives until then…:)

    Have a nice day! and thank you for making my day beautiful

  31. Paul D says:

    I’m glad you mentioned writing down your goals. I am a true believe in recording goals and having a plan in life.

  32. Yasmin says:

    Very interesting blog!!!
    I just read a couple of blogs before also dealing with these subjects.
    You should check out http://www.lifequake.wordpress.com

  33. You’re right. Putting everyday life in a 10-year perspective was really effective and it helps to prioritize pretty much everything we choose to do. Thanks for that!

  34. Francis Chin says:

    This is the second time I’ve spammed 10 of my best friends with your 10 Things that won’t Matter in 10 Years. The first was your article on the 5-year planning theme.

    Thanks for these enriching thoughts!

  35. This is a great post. I am saddened sometimes when I look at the things people focus on in the moment. It’s no wonder so many people are miserable. They forget to remember the 10 things we will remember in 10 years.

    A great blog I will surely follow.

  36. Thank you for this great article. This definitely helps get things into perspective. The struggle is to KEEP things in persepective. I’m going to post this at my desk as a reminder.

  37. “9. Spending time learning and practicing a new skill” is my favorite here. Investing time and energy in growth is the way for me. This post resonates w/me a lot.

  38. farouk says:

    brilliant post, we waste a big amount of time crying over things that would mean nothing few weeks later

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  41. This is a great article. On my website, I write about simplicity and getting our priorities right in order to really make our lives meaningful. What a great reminder.



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  44. Excellent post. Something I write about, that will matter in 10 years, is your own memory. Take the time now to improve your memory. http://trevorponder.com

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  46. This is a great post and I think there are things which we truly magnify that are so much bigger in the moment. For instance, when you get the flu you never think it will end and you can be so miserable as there is no sense of perspective. The same thing with situations like someone not calling you back or a friend ignoring you. You may not even be friends with that person in a year.


  47. Motivation says:

    This truly is a great post for those that understand the meaning. However I sent this message to some individuals at work who were very stressed at the time. This message ended up getting forwarded to our boss by one of them and was interpreted as that “I did not care about work” which was not the intention at all.

  48. Issa says:

    It’s a relief to an overworked, stressed out employee.. Despite my busy sked, I hope to find time to soul-nourishing stuff you just mentioned @ #6 and #10.

    Great reminder, Ali. Thanks.^^

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    I would hope to be back tracking. Thanks for the great write-up.

  51. Wale Onajoko says:

    Life is too precious to be wasted on things that won’t matter in years to come. It is important that we know what really matter in our lives. Thanks, Nice write-up!

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