Technology, Culture, & Emotional Intelligence

The Hidden Cost of the “Shortcuts” We Tend to Take

If our goals center around growth, purpose, or even planning for a desired future — then comfort may be our greatest adversary.

Photo by Camden & Hailey George / Unsplash

My wife and I just took a trip out to Utah. In the weeks leading up to the trip I had multiple friends and family members say things like, “you really deserve a break.” I am certainly a believer in the importance of rest — especially for my wife who just survived another semester of law school, but those comments did make me stop and think — what kind of break do I really “deserve?”

I think there is a difference between resting and being idle. Resting is about self-care, rejuvenation, and recovery — the stuff that each of us certainly deserve after a long and hard season of life. I’ve just found that being idle is a different thing altogether. It’s less about getting your energy back and more about finding out how to get what you want with the least amount of effort possible. It’s very easy for me to be idle this time of year.

I heard a friend of mine speak on this subject about a year ago. He spoke of how the most effective temptations which can tear us away from our disciplines and desires are not grand, but instead often very small. Here are three simple everyday temptations he shared:

  • Our Appetites: This is the temptation to manipulate our reality to get what we want: the extra dessert or the fourth episode in a row of that guilty pleasure show.
  • Our Presumption: This is the temptation of throwing caution to the wind and living beyond our means. Case in point: I’ll bet there’ll be a lot of large credit card bills coming in January.
  • Our Shortcuts: This is the temptation to take the easy way out. This is where we seek comfort and ease rather than maintaining the daily habits that actualize our purpose and calling.

All three of these things are ultimately about comfort. I've found that comfort sounds good until you realize the consequences. There are no shortcuts to becoming a person of substance. If our goals center around growth, purpose, or even planning for a desired future — then comfort may be our greatest adversary.

Ironically, when we intentionally choose to do things that are inherently uncomfortable, one of the results is that the challenges which were once uncomfortable — things like exercising our bodies, saving our money, or breaking a poor habit — suddenly become easier over time.

I’m really not calling you out here; if anyone needs this reminder today it’s me. But, if you do happen to be someone like me – one who can slip without thinking into shortcut living – then let this be a reminder to you today too.

All the things you will do in 2023 that have the power to make you into more of the kind of person you want to be will likely be slow, hard, boring, and laborious. Don’t run from the long road, because, despite the difficulty, the cost of taking the short cut may — in the long run — be greater than you expect.

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Jamie Larson