Brought to you by Founders with ThenAtlas Analytics & 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

Founders’s life decision:
Should I finish writing a book?

The possible answer:

How this changes your forest:
Grows a small tree

This change is best for:
Building personal resilience (ability to bounce back from disturbance)

Your current forest:
Redwoods in-transition

This decision is:

Not just any new tree will work, but with the right one, this forest can move towards being full again.


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
– This forest is sunny because it is has space for new trees.
– Space may have been created by a fallen tree lost to a past disturbance.
– In other forests, gaps tend to fill quickly by growth of new or surrounding trees – but this forest tends to have unique conditions and establishment of new trees is a slow process – thus this forest may remain un-full for an extended time.
– This leads to reduced competition between existing trees leading to less stress and greater disturbance resistance.
– Despite great potential for robust trajectories, being un-full can resemble suppressed forests (Mountain Spruce) that have restricted growth due to challenging environmental conditions.

Translation: This is a mix of a few deeply meaningful things, like family and a career, with at least some emptiness or yearning for more. Most people would try to fill this emptiness quickly with a new hobby but instead, here we have someone with free time and maybe reduced stress. The challenge is to avoid letting the emptiness grow through lack of action associated with depression.

Your Previous Forest
d. Sequoia Grove (A few giant trees, no space for new trees)
How You Got Here
Starting a new life: I was working crazy hours at the college and getting completely burned out. The job came to an end and I went off to make it on my own. Still trying to make it. At least life is less chaos now.
Primary Cause of Change
Change in job = Good
How is Life Now?
Age Group

This Decision: Grows a small tree

How this changes your forest:
New trees add resilience, or the ability to bounce back, to your forest after a disturbance.

Translation: All of life’s most meaningful aspects started small at one point. Growing newer relationships is the only way to eventually develop deep, important ones which are critical for those who experiance lots of disruptions. When old relationships end it is good to have newer ones to rely upon.

Ideal for:
Building personal resilience (ability to bounce back from disturbance)

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
– 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:

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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