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Why You Need To Stop Chasing Short Term Pleasure

Why You Need To Stop Chasing Short Term Pleasure

If You Ever Want To Be Happy

Stop drinking before breakfast.

That’s what I wanted to do, all I wanted to accomplish, to achieve, only a few short years ago. I just wanted to quit drinking cheap scotch in bed before I’d even dragged myself out of it.

But quitting was tough. Because in the moment, I had that short-term pleasure of being able to ignore my fears, anxiety, regret and pain by drinking all of them into a corner and turning my back on them.

It was a short-term solution to a long-term problem. A whole host of long-term problems. And the key was recognising that the short-term payoff was only going to destroy my chance of ever having a long-term gain.

Or, take the example of a woman who hated her job. This was a woman I met last year when I ran my first coaching programme, who was earning more money every year than me, and who loved and hated her money because it enabled and limited her.

Wanting to break out of a role she hated, with a boss who looked at her boobs more than her proposals and constantly harassed her, she felt trapped by her income and the knowledge that leaving it behind would mean taking a hit in the bank.

When she finally took the leap and walked out, that hit was just as bad as she thought it would be. I’m not going to sugar coat that. She had to sell her car to make rent. And she’s earning less now, consulting for folks while she’s looking for her next role.

But that pain is short-term, and knowing it is short term has made all the difference. It’s a lot better to take that short-term pain in order to reach the long-term gains of feeling safe, happy, and secure.

The short-term pain sucks. It does. It always will. And it might even feel like it sucks to a Brobdingnagian degree — because our minds amplify the negative experiences, feelings and sensations that we are facing in the present moment, meaning that if you’re currently dealing with a short-term pain, it can sometimes feel impossible to overcome.

The Payoff

But the payoff makes the difference. The new job, the paid off debts, the heightened level of awareness, the calm outlook, the flourishing business or startup that you desperately want to build. Any meaningful benefits in your life will always come attached to short term pain.

As long as you can push through that short-term, you have the opportunity to accomplish incredible things. But you’ve got to want it, stick to it, and fight for it.

Fight the impulses, the urges to quit and walk away, the little asshole-voice-inside-your-head that tells you it doesn’t matter if you give up just this once making changes and accomplishing anything means flipping up your middle finger at the short term and looking ahead.

[This post by Jon Westenberg first appeared on Medium and has been reproduced with permission.] 


A Sydney based writer focusing on creativity, technology and business.
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