Today I’m going to write about something that is breaking my heart because I see it happening way too often, resulting in devastating consequences in people’s lives and subsequently, for society at large. There seems to be an epidemic involving people thinking they can have whatever they want without paying any cost at all. I’ve succumbed to this siren song at times in my own life so I know it’s very powerful. But I’ve learned that everything on life has a cost. Everything. Want to be in great physical shape? You pay for it by spending a lot of time in the gym and eating well. Want to live in a big, beautiful house? You have to pay a lot of money. Want a good career? You have to dedicate a lot of time to it.
What I’m describing ought to be considered a law of nature at this point. If there were no costs, what would anything be worth? Everyone would have the best of everything and none of it would have any meaning whatsoever. But the world doesn’t have the resources to support that and even if it did, we would all be living terribly unfulfilled lives. Why? Fulfillment comes from facing challenges, overcoming them, and growing as a result. You get none of that when you take the easy road. Imagine if you had everything you wanted right now – a big mansion, millions of dollars, a fleet of expensive vehicles, a beautiful and loving family, the admiration of many people, etc. Your vision probably includes you being happy. But what happens if you stay in that vision as the days, weeks, months, and years go by? I believe that smile is going to fade. Why do you have all those emblems of success? Why do those people love you? There isn’t a reason. You didn’t earn any of it. And that element is crucial. So many people don’t understand this and it crushes them in life. They fetishize the material rewards of success but that’s nothing but fool’s gold. The value of success isn’t in rewards; it’s in the process of earning it.
And beyond simply depriving yourself of fulfillment, making the easy choices in life will actually make things worse for you. By bypassing paying the cost of something, you increase the cost you will eventually have to pay. If you just make the minimum payment on your credit card bill today instead of paying the full statement balance, that bill is going to come back bigger next month. If you keep doing it, eventually you are going to drown in credit card debt. If you skip the gym today, tomorrow you’re going to have to work even harder just to get back to where you could have been. If you stop going to the gym altogether, eventually you are going to have health problems you otherwise wouldn’t have had.
Most people aren’t very future oriented and as a result, they see substantially higher long term costs as a perfectly acceptable trade off for somewhat lower costs today. This is how obese people are built – one bad decision at a time. This is how people in their sixties with no choice but to work until they drop dead got there – “I’ll start saving tomorrow.” Please do not choose that kind of path for yourself. I highly recommend The Time Paradox by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd. That book explains this concept brilliantly in scientific terms.
Think about who you would be in life if there were no limits. Whatever that looks like, I’m here to tell you that you can have it. Maybe not exactly what you pictured, but you can make your life look much more like that than it does now in ways that you will never believe. But you have to start doing the work. Not next week, not tomorrow, NOW. You are building your future with every decision you make. Instead of what is easiest right now, think about where you actually want to go in life and make the choice that is going to move you in that direction. It won’t be long before those little, good decisions will start to add up to big, positive changes and you’ll realize how important every one of them really was. And from there, it will get easier and easier to make more of them – and bigger ones too.
Or, you can stop working on something important because it’s too hard. You can have a Twinkie because vegetables don’t taste as good. You can sit on your increasingly fat ass and watch mindless garbage on tv because you don’t feel like doing anything productive. You get the idea. But don’t blame anyone else when you have gone nowhere in life in twenty years. Don’t demand that successful people pay for your mistakes. Don’t try to force your bitterness on others who have made better choices than you have. Whether or not you want to earn anything in life, I can assure you that you will. But it might not be an outcome you, or anyone, would want. Please choose something better and make something out of your time on this earth.