I was having a conversation with a friend at the gym this morning. We were talking about our children and our lives, and that led to a conversation about relationships. She shared that she knew someone that was in a bad marriage and had been for years. She wasn’t sure why this friend stayed in this relationship, but lately, the friend had been telling her about another man that was paying attention to her. This new infatuation took up a lot of space in her head and the whole thing really bothered my friend.
She didn’t understand why this woman was turning to someone else when she had a current relationship that obviously needed attention. I agreed with her. Frankly, I’ve seen this same scenario play out over and over with numerous relationships. Instead of dealing with the situation at hand and facing the uncomfortable truth, many turn to other people to give them what they’re missing. Common sense tells you that this isn’t going to turn out positively. Eventually, the whole thing is going to combust and the problems are going to be bigger and harder to solve. But doing this in the short-term is easier and not as painful.
Which leads me to this thought: why do people choose to handle their issues with short-term fixes that feel good instead of dealing with the problem? I’m not just referring to relationships— I see the same pattern with women and their choices in their careers. They take the job that pays more initially over the job that has potential and fits their skills better. The extra money sounds really good and is an immediate fix. They can’t imagine getting by on less money, even if it means down the road, they could very well have the job of their dreams. They can’t visualize changing careers and doing what they love because they would have to start over financially and emotionally. All they can see is the long road ahead, which is hard, so they stay exactly where they are.
I see it when people are grappling with the decision to start a business. Starting a business is a major sacrifice in your life. Chances are, you’ll be strapped for money, overworked, and deal daily with frustration. Success won’t happen overnight and you have to be willing to wait to reap the benefits. That “sure thing” paycheck seems like a much easier route to take. It’s the owners that hang in there and are willing to keep working toward their far-away goal that find eventual success.
What I’m asking you to do is to think about your own life. Is there an area of your life where you can’t bear to do the hard work? Is it a relationship, career, or friendship? Is it your health? Is that piece of cake your short-term fix to feel better when you really need to do that one-hour workout at the gym and lose 10 pounds? Do you find yourself giving in to your kid and letting him have that toy in the store because it’s easier than saying no and surviving the anger and rejection (and tantrum) that will follow the decision?
I’m suggesting that you stop putting band-aids on your problems. There’s no quick way to make a million dollars. There’s no secret way to instantly lose 20 pounds. Your obstacles are not going to go away without some long-term planning and hard work. Stop doing what “feels good” in the short-term and face the issue at hand. In the long run, this is the real recipe for happiness and success.