Let’s say that you are on a diet and you want to lose some weight. This is a very common goal and you can go about it in a myriad of different ways. Generally speaking, if you want to lose weight, you should be paying attention to both your diet and your exercise.
You’ll want to be more selective about what you eat and you’ll want to be more disciplined about staying active. Maybe you go running twice a week. Maybe you sign up for a gym membership. The specifics here don’t matter.
You have a long-term objective in mind that you want to lose a certain amount of weight and you’ve carefully put together a plan for how you want to achieve that goal. That’s all great and it’s exactly the same way you would go about approaching any major objective you might have, whether that’s quitting smoking or doubling your income.
Do or Donut, There Is No Try
Now, let’s say that you’re out running some errands or doing some grocery shopping when you walk past your favorite donut shop. You see that they have an extra special flavor available for one day only and you’re really tempted to indulge. You have a fleeting desire.
Eating that special donut will give you a momentary sense of pleasure, because you really want to try it and it’s probably pretty delicious too. And in the grand scheme of things, a single donut isn’t going to make that much of a difference in terms of your weight loss goals.
Except it totally will, because it totally does.
That donut, that single indulgence, runs completely counter to your long term goal. You are sabotaging your own chances at success, because you want to enjoy the momentary happiness that you think the donut will provide.
Now that you’ve gone inside the store, you see that it’s actually a much better deal if you get a half dozen donuts instead. Oh, and they’ve got a loyalty program, so you sign up for that too. And eating the donut is probably going to make you thirsty, so you pick up a mocha too.
Suddenly, that one donut has snowballed into a half-dozen donuts, a mocha, and the temptation to return on a frequent basis to rack up those loyalty rewards. Suddenly, your weight loss goals have been completely thrown out the window, all because you were too focused on the short term rather than keeping your eyes on the long-term prize.
Small Steps, Long Distance
The truth is that your chances of achieving your long-term objective are necessarily built upon all the small, short-term decisions you make along the way. The big prize at the end of the rainbow is completely contingent on how you manage your fleeting wants and desires.
There’s an old saying that a moment on the lips means a lifetime on the hips. And it’s completely true, because it grants you permission to break the rules you’ve set for yourself.
This is all from the context of a diet and trying to lose weight, but you can see how easily it can be adapted and extended to any goals you may have.
If you want to make a living as a professional blogger or Internet marketer, you need to stick to your guns to work toward your long-term objective. Sure, “wasting” a few minutes on Facebook might feel harmless in the moment, but it opens up the floodgates for you to “waste” more and more time on the social network with each passing day until you develop the self-destructive habit of procrastination and distraction.
Eyes on the Prize
You should absolutely give yourself a break every once in a while. There’s nothing wrong with having a “cheat day” every now and then, so long as these breaks and “cheats” are built into your original plan and you stick with all the other guidelines that you’ve established for yourself. Every time that you are tempted by a fleeting desire, ask yourself a few simple questions.
Is this aligned with my long-term goals? Will it help me keep moving in the right direction? Does it actually move me any closer to my goal or is it simply distracting me away from what needs to be done? Am I sacrificing my long-term happiness in exchange for a moment on the lips?