Updated: Aug 16
Choose the path of least resistance and life will be hard, however, choose the path of most resistance and life will be easy.
What does this mean? If you don’t seek out the short-term, daily activities that are tough, you will end up living with long-term consequences which will be significantly tougher. The secret to living an easy life, is making the daily hard choices, based off long-term thinking. One of the most common mistakes people make however, is constantly try to find the path of least resistance and seeking short-term solutions. The equation for long-term happiness and success is simple... Stop giving into your need for immediate gratification and invest in things that will pay you back tomorrow, next week, next year or even in the next decade...
You can often tell whether someone is short or long-term focused by their level of physical fitness, financial status and the quality of their relationships. This is because being in shape, growing wealth and developing strong relationships all rely on taking consistent long-term inspired action. Despite how simple this may sound, executing these decisions consistently isn’t easy. It requires experiencing high levels of short-term discomfort, for usually no short-term benefits. This is why I believe it is so important to learn how to overcome the desire for immediate gratification and accept the fact you won't see benefits for weeks, months or years to come. Far too many people buy into the narrative “to be happy in life we should live each day like it’s our last”. From what I've seen, people simply use this as a way of justify why they should have a 'rest/lazy day', spend money on unnecessary things or over indulge in junk food. This way of thinking might bring you small bursts of happiness, however it often prevents people from making the sacrifices necessary for long term happiness and fulfilment.
Uncomfortable Truth: There is sacrifice in everything we choose to do and don’t do. If you choose to not make the short-term sacrifices, you will ultimately sacrifice your long-term potential.
I am very grateful to have spent time on both sides of this fence. During my college years, I invested a large amount of time socialising, going out with friends, partying, staying up late watching movies, sleeping in, eating junk food ect. The majority of these decisions were based off short-term thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I would never take these experiences back and I truly did have an amazing time. However the level of fulfilment and happiness I’ve experienced by investing my time and energy into long-term goals (like the Ironman, my PhD, business etc.), massively outweighs anything I have ever experienced prior. It certainly outweighs any of the immediately gratifying, short-term happiness, fuelled experiences I have sacrificed to pursue these endeavours. In fact, the new levels of fulfilment and happiness I've experienced, have fuelled my desire to sacrifice more of the unimportant, to pursue bigger and better things in the future.
A great way to integrate this way of thinking into your life is by consistently choosing the hard options and turning these behaviours into habits. If you can tap into your brain and figure out how to do the things you don’t want to do, you will be successful. Period. This is exactly why I signed up for the Ironman. I needed to make difficult decisions every single day during training. There is very little I enjoyed about training and 95% of the time it was quite literally the last thing on earth I felt like doing. However, this is the exact reason why it has shifted my mindset in such a positive way. I gained the ability to overcome the enormous temptation to take the easy option (sleep in, rest, justify to myself why I don't need to train today) and instead, choose to attack the tasks that were genuinely tough. The countless amount of small tough decisions around training, eating, sleeping, stretching and managing my time, all provided me with no short-term benefits. It was a perfect opportunity to practice doing the things I didn't want to do. I strongly believe this is they key to achieving your goals. Practice doing the things you don't want to do, turn them into habits... then be patient.
I previously believed I didn’t have enough time or money for pursuing long-term goals, then would proceed to spend hours watching TV, scrolling through social media or making unnecessary purchases on items I didn’t need. It took a high level of self awareness to peel back the self-justifying layers and truly reflect on the quality of my decisions. So what have I learned? If you have limited time, invest your free time on meaningful tasks rather than social media or TV. If you have limited money, save and invest all disposable income, rather than spending it. Take responsibility for what you have, rather than focussing on what you don’t have. The potential benefits from compounding growth, are too profound to ignore. Warren Buffett's investing strategy is a perfect example of the why you should think long-term. He was once asked: Warren, your strategy is so simple, why doesn't everyone just copy you and get rich? He replied: Because very few people want to get rich slowly. My advice; treat everything important in your life as a long-term investment and be disciplined, consistent, and patient along the way.
Uncomfortable truth: We have the time. We have the money. Let's stop lying to ourselves and justifying weak decision making.
I often hear successful people quote the following; “At first people will ask WHY you are doing it, then they will ask HOW did you did it?”. I have found this to be accurate, even with my own small experiences with success. Most people will question what you are doing and fail to understand why you would choose to sacrifice; a Sunday sleep in for a workout, watching TV shows for learning new skills or a night out on the town for developing additional income streams. Ironically, I have found it's usually the people who care about you the most (friends and family), who are the ones advising you to not work so hard or to take a day off. Although this comes from a good place, if you have a long-term goal you are passionate about achieving, don't let anyone talk you out of putting in the necessary work to make the dream a reality. Take the path of most resistance and don't stop trying until people start asking 'how did you do it?'.