You come to a fork in the road on the journey of your life. One direction is easy, and the other is hard. You have to make a decision and take a path.
Do you choose the hard way, or the easy way?
Eventually, you will come back to the same fork in the road. Only this time, the direction you chose first is no longer available. Your only choice is the other path.
How do you feel about your first decision now?
There are two possible outcomes when applying this concept.
1. Easy Now, Hard Later
You choose short term gratification and delay inevitable hardship.
You’ve just graduated high school, but college is an overwhelming thought and you can’t decide on a trade you want to master. Instead, you find a job with hourly wages.
One day you have a wife and kids, and your job is limiting you. You need a degree before you can turn your job into a career which will provide stability and benefits for you and your family.
But taking classes while working and taking care of a family is much harder than attending college after high school would have been.
2. Hard Now, Easy Later
You choose to delay gratification and realize long term goals.
Your career is just starting and it’s nice to have a decent salary. But instead of spending every extra cent, you cut down your lifestyle so you can automatically set aside money from every paycheck for retirement.
When it’s time to retire, you have a large nest egg thanks to the beauty of compound interest over many years! Now you can easily buy a vacation house in cash and spend most of the year traveling to see family and friends.
Though you remember how hard it was to save for retirement, you now enjoy the fruits of your hard work and can retire in luxury.
We encounter decisions like this every day which have huge long term impact. But we are tempted to take a candy bar now, forfeiting a feast later.
I’ve studied many people I want to be like, and they consistently chose the harder decision first. They delayed gratification in order to aim for something much bigger and more important.
Think of a time when you made a decision like this. How did you like the result?