A few months ago I wrote about “short-term fixes” and that sometimes you need to patch something quickly to stop water or blood or anger from spilling out of your toilet, body, or relationship. The post ended with:
Short-term fixes are meant to be a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. If the toilet continues to run I’ll need to replace the float because it’s likely broken and the problem may get worse. We can’t have a book and a toy propping up our bed forever. They could slip and / or there may be other damage to the frame we haven’t yet found. You can’t hold a compression over an open wound forever without trying to fix the injury and you can’t just keep walking away from conflicts with others or keep beating up yourself without doing something to repair the damage or eventually things will get worse and break.
Sometimes you need a short-term fix. Just don’t stop there.
In the weekly email that writer James Clear sent out last Thursday he wrote:
Strangely, life gets harder when you try to make it easy.Exercising might be hard, but never moving makes life harder. Uncomfortable conversations are hard, but avoiding every conflict is harder. Mastering your craft is hard, but having no skills is harder.
Easy has a cost.
Often the short-term fix is the easy fix.
If I’m really hungry (or I’m eating for the wrong reasons such as boredom) I’ll often reach for something easy that requires no preparation. Often those things are less healthy than if I took even just a few minutes to prepare something simple, tasty, and healthier. I can also spend the time and plan my grocery shopping with this in mind and buy a variety of quick options such as different kinds of fruit to put in a big bowl on our kitchen counter. Yes a handful of crackers or chocolate chips might be quick and tasty, but taking the time to think about it and plan will be better in the shorter and long-term. When I go the quick and easy way for a prolonged period I feel like crap. If I were to do this throughout my life, it’s going to probably negatively effect my long-term health and make me feel more and more like crap as time goes by.
Not making time to see a doctor for a check-up or avoiding it because you don’t like going might feel good in the short-term, but the long-term implications could mean not catching a serious diagnosis until it’s too late.
It might be hard or take time to set up a retirement fund. You may be only focusing on the short-term, but you’ll miss out on that compounding growth that people talk about (and these are the people who know what they’re doing). Putting in the time, effort, and money now will pay off when you want to retire, but can’t unless you have the savings to do so.
You can repeatedly take the easy way of showing up for your partner or friends, doing the bare minimum in the moment, but eventually they’re probably going to get sick of your lack of effort and you may find yourself alone.
Yes, quick and easy is necessary on occasion, but it’s rarely the solution for the long-term. Putting in the effort, time, and maybe even money might be harder now, but it will compound and make life better in the future. If you always take the quick and easy, though, the effects of that will compound as well. It might feel easy today, but too much easy could make life very hard for you in the long-run.
Featured image courtesy of James Clear under a CC-BY-NC-SA license.