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  • Timothy Iseler

Today's Decisions = Tomorrow's Options

Have you ever seen footage of kids doing the marshmallow test? It goes like this: a marshmallow is placed in front of a child who is told that he or she can eat it right now or wait 15 minutes and receive two marshmallows. It's a classic psychology study of the ability to make a small, unsatisfying decision now in exchange for a greater reward later. And, as it turns out, the ability to delay gratification seems to lead to success later in life.


Some day in the future, you will face a decision you do not want to make. It may be small – like which outfit to wear to a party – or it may be large – like how to care for an aging parent. Despite wanting to avoid the decision, pass it off to someone else, or ignore it completely, it will still be yours to make.

The options available in that moment are determined by your decisions and habits between now and then. Dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of smaller, easier choices will determine whether you have many ways to successfully navigate future dilemmas – or just a few. Some choices will expand possibilities in the future; others will limit them.

Running a marathon relies on disciplined training months in advance. What you can afford to buy next year depends on what you save right now. The relationships nurtured today will be the meaningful ones in the future – when those unwanted decisions come calling.

While it is impossible to only make good decisions or to know with certainty that the good decisions you make will lead to the outcomes you want, some actions are more likely to lead to good results (more options in the future) and some to poor results (less options in the future).

Taking care of your body, being responsible with money, and caring for loved ones now are likely to lead to greater possibilities later – what you are able to do physically, what you can afford, and with whom you spend your time. Neglecting your body, mismanaging money, and acting selfishly today are likely to lead to fewer possibilities later – less physically able, less money to use, less people to share the experience.

Write down 3 easy, simple, and repeatable actions you can take starting today that will expand your options in the future. It is an investment of time, focus, and effort that will facilitate more possibilities – rather than fewer – when facing the really difficult decisions in life.


Timothy Iseler, CFP®

Founder & Lead Advisor

Iseler Financial, LLC | Durham NC | (919) 666-7604


Iseler Financial helps creative professionals remove stress while taking control of their financial futures. As both advisor and accountability partner, we help identify current strengths and weaknesses, clarify and refine your long-term goals, and prioritize understandable, manageable, and repeatable actions to bring long-term financial well-being. Reach out today to take the first step.

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