Brought to you by Skip and a century of forestry research
Decision analyses are based on patterns of change in forests with the goal:
To create a more meaningful life

Decision Forest Summary

Skip’s life decision:
Buy a new car?

The possible answer:
Yes, buy a new car.

How this changes your forest:
Grows a small tree

This change is best for:
Increasing diversity for more effective use of resources

Your current forest:
Mature secondary

This decision is:

Investing in small trees can be difficult when there are bigger things on your mind; it also might not be the most efficient use of resources; but, growing small trees often increases the functional diversity of your forest which means they fill a unique role in your life that leads to a stronger, healthier forest long term. Just don’t overcrowd your forest with too many new trees.


Similar to people, forests are complex and always changing.
Patterns of change in forests can help us make decisions in our own lives.
Understand where you are now:

Your Current Forest

About Your Forest
– A diversity of sizes generally indicates some trees are better adapted and currently more important than many other smaller trees.

– While each tree has the potential to have long life, many are typically lost in time.
– All trees need to grow to stay important – thus it is difficult to stay at this stage for an extended period and smaller trees generally are forced out by larger trees.
– Lost trees are not gone! – see what it means to lose a tree : lose a tree
– Due to intense competition for resources, new trees tend to be rare unless replacing others, and they tend to be more susceptible to unexpected disturbances.
– Most often, the largest trees will continue to grow and the weakest will fade until there are just a few large trees and no new or small trees.

Translation: This life has a few deeply meaningful things that are going to stick with them through tough times. The main challenge is these meaninful things may take up more and more time, which can push out other less important things. For example, having a girlfriend may seem more important than doing homework and grades may suffer. This competition for your time can be difficult and this friction can make unexpected issues more frequent.

Your Previous Forest
i. Old Growth (Diverse tree sizes from incredibly important through new and full of potential – Trees are well adapted and supportive of each other)
How You Got Here
Retirement: I retired after working for 40+ years in two careers
Primary Cause of Change
Retiring = Both better and worse
How is Life Now?
Both better and worse
Age Group

This Decision: Grows a small tree

How this changes your forest:
Growing small trees makes those trees more resistant to disturbance and less likely to be out-competed. Without growth, most small trees are lost eventually (although some are known to hang out for decades). Small trees often add diversity to the forest and better utilize unique resources.

Translation: All of life’s most meaningful aspects started small at one point; growth is key to keeping them healthy. Often these small things add diversity to your life and fill a unique role in your life that would otherwise be empty. Occationally these small things have the opportunity to fill a larger gap in your life.

Ideal for:
Increasing diversity for more effective use of resources

Less ideal for:
Those who already have lots of small, shallow-rooted trees, compared to deep-rooted large trees that are better at resisting disturbances.


Note: this future forest represents the direction your forest may be heading.
Your actual forest change may be much more subtle depending on the magnitude of the decision.

Your Future Forest

About Your Expected Future Forest
– The Dynamic nature of this forest indicates that it is in an environment that is not fully stable, which tends to result in more trees overall.
– More trees tends to be better resilience (ability to bounce back) to disturbances.

Otherwise this forest is the same as Old Growth:
– There will still be several old trees, some large, some slow growing and smaller.
– New diverse uniquely adapted trees continuously establishing without taking away from existing trees.
– Small trees can maintain very slow growth for extended periods without being lost.
– This forest has been through several cycles of: Disturbance that has strengthend the remaining trees and increased species diversity.
– Deep soils (many trees lost and decomposing) create disturbance resistance and improve the ability to establish new trees.
– Trees are diverse and often intertwined (leading to mutual strength).

This forest type is rare, difficult to reach, and may not be suitable for most.
– It requires embracing change and balancing tree growth with diversity
– This includes establishing new trees that can eventually force out old less-suitable trees.
– This forest requires making decisions on which trees are best adapted for your forest.

Translation: Everyone wants to be a well-rounded person with a supportive community but it is surprizingly difficult. The main challenge is that this is not a stable ending but rather an always changing middle. To become Old Growth, the things that are meaningfull need to be supportive of each other and grow with each other. These forests are also characterized by high diversity, which tends to feel inefficient, but it can allow your resources (time, money, energy) to be used more effectively.

How to know if a new tree is better adapted?
– For example: Scuba diving could be a fun new hobby with the potential for long-term satisfaction. But scuba diving should not force out other trees like a career. Unless, of course, the scuba diving can improve upon your current career satisfaction, lifestyle, income, relationships, and the experiences to keep growing intellectually. If it can fill that niche, then quitting a “normal” job to become a scuba instructor in Fiji could be a great example of a small tree forcing out a large unhealthy tree!

Related Decisions:

to stay or move, again
What it means to lose a tree..
[gathering more community stories]

Now the decision is:


Comment below if this was helpful!

Here are some additonal directions that may help create an Old Growth forest

[Or maintain your Old Growth]

Becoming an old growth forest is unique for everyone. We are developing more customizable online tools to help with this – until then, feel free to contact us for guidance; AND, try to follow all of the 6 key forest change strategies:

Resistance: Grow big trees bigger for greater resource efficiency and disturbance resistance.
Disruption: Forest disturbances are inevitable, use it as an opportunity to identify the strongest trees.
Resilience: Grow new trees and prevent small trees from being lost for better ability to “bounce back” after a disturbance.
Expansion: Make sure your forest is actually full, but don't overfill
Focus: Full forests often change because the have to (i.e. self-thinning), where-as forests with open space have greater opportunity to stay the same or grow new trees.
Revolution: Figure out how trees can better coexist and support each other; or, let healthy better-adapted trees force out toxic (allelopathic) large trees.

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