Should you sacrifice today for the future, or vice versa?

Which best describes you?

A: “I’d rather do something I don’t like now so I can enjoy myself later.”

B: “I’d rather have fun now and worry about the future later.”

Perhaps neither perfectly suits you. Most of us experience conflicting thoughts at different times. But if you notice patterns in your thinking, you can make more skillful decisions.

Consider this: if you frequently have type A thoughts, is it possible that you might never end up enjoying yourself? Are you on track to always push off the fun until some future time that will never materialize?

One example is having an entry-level job that you don’t like. Perhaps it’s a stepping stone to promotions and to higher pay, but is it also a stepping stone towards the expectation that you’ll be available for work 24/7 and that you’ll sacrifice even more of your personal life for your work? If so, you might only dislike your future jobs more than your current one.  

Or consider the opposite: if you often have type B thoughts, could it be that—while you are enjoying yourself in the moment—you don’t have a viable plan for continuing to have a good time into the future?

An example could be that you’ve spent some time traveling—and you had a blast—but now your savings are running out and you don’t know what sort of work you’d like to do. You don’t have a job lined up and you have no business ideas. Whoops.

Now, neither of these two scenarios mean that you’ve failed or that you don’t have your life together! They do, however, present opportunities for you to recognize and to work on one of your weaknesses.

For example, I spent three-and-a-half years doing work I didn’t like and that wasn’t good for me, only because I thought it would lead to better things eventually. Finally, I got fed up and I decided that I wanted to have a good time now. Then the pendulum swung all the way to the other side: I spent a few years having a lot of fun, but without a viable plan to make a living. Today, I’m somewhere in between. The key is to balance the two.

Tell me: Do you identify more with type A or with type B? How can you tell?


— Peter

P.S. Are you stuck on either short-term thinking or long-term thinking? We can work it out in a Getting Unstuck coaching session. Sign up now for a free 30-minute introductory call.

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