Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Short Term Sacrifices, Long Term Rewards

As I make the rounds and people ask, "are you really going to climb Mt. Everest?" I have to answer that I am, and after they ask I tell them it is expensive. A fair percentage of people are saying, "that makes sense why you drive that van." Yes it does.

We all make sacrifices. We sacrifice one thing to have another. We sacrifice time with this group to have time with that group. Time with this person to spend more time with that person. Money on this thing instead of money on that thing. You can't have everything. You can have more than you can use, but you can't have it all. Honestly, if you live a long life you have maybe 2.5 billion seconds on the earth. That is not enough time to tell everyone in the world help in their own language one at a time. We are all giving up time with those people we have never met to spend more intimate time with those we have.

The idea of today is that short term sacrifice often come with long term rewards. Skipping one night of watching reruns to watch a friend's kid for an hour is a small sacrifice if it might mean I can positively influence a young person. Driving around in the second worst vehicle in the parking lot for a few years may be humbling when my coworkers are getting into much newer and nicer vehicles, but if it means I get to spend nine weeks at Mt. Everest trying to climb to over 29,000 feet, it's a good deal.

The world is full of things like this. I don't always want to go out and run, but running day after day has consistently allowed me to run races faster as friends retire their racing shoes. Saving a little money every paycheck in the case I get layed-off is a huge benefit. Going to the dentist to get fillings is not pleasant, but compared to having a root canal or a tooth fall out (neither have I experienced) is a small sacrifice.

Success, at relationships, running, engineering, speed skating, and just about anything is based on frequent small sacrifices of other things that in the moment might be more interesting, but in the long run do no compare at all to the success of a larger goal. That's what I want to encourage, going after the greater goal even, and especially, when it means you have to give up a whole bunch of little satisfactions. Hang in there! Go running on the day you don't feel like it! Tell your significant other "I'm sorry" the next time you neglect her, and then take her out for dinner. Don't go buy a new car the month you get your old car paid off. I find, that delayed gratification often makes the experience more memorable. In other words, I appreciate my job more than many, maybe even most, engineers because I know that it took over 400 applications and 57 weeks to get here. I also enjoy my running so much because it has taken me so long to see the level of success I see.

Make short term sacrifices and receive long term rewards.

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