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The Long View

May 21, 2019

I’m writing this as a message to me. But as I’m talking to myself, I hope you’ll read along—it just might be something you need to hear too.

I’m overdue for a reminder to take the long view in life.

Zig Ziglar said, “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.”

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. It communicates a fundamental truth that I fully embrace, and it’s the concept that inspired my first book. I often hesitate to share this principle in my writing or speaking because it feels so painfully obvious. Of course everyone knows you should focus on making choices that will benefit you long-term. However, even though I know this to be true, I often find myself wanting to choose what’s easier, to do the thing that will make me happy right now instead of the thing that will satisfy me later.

It’s tempting to settle for the short term.

The idea is going to take too much work.

The weight loss isn’t happening as quickly as I want.

The relationship is requiring a lot more work than I expected; is it worth it?

I want to be fully engaged as a dad, but I don’t want to entertain my child who can’t even talk to me; surely he won’t notice if I escape to my phone for a little while.

I know I need to save for the future, but retirement seems like too far away.

This whole starting a business thing is too much work; wouldn’t I rather go work somewhere that I can leave the problems when I go home?

Investing in my coworkers on top of getting my work done is exhausting; maybe I should give up trying to do both?

Actively serving the church is too tough at this stage of life; I’ll just enjoy the Sunday morning service and not invest too much energy.

The thoughts creep in. The frustration mounts. The future feels like too far away. And it seems a lot easier to sacrifice that future to enjoy this moment.

It’s tempting. But it’s not worth it.

I have to remind myself that I don’t want to get down the road and have my story filled with “should have,” “could have,” or “wish I would have.”

The goal is worth it. Keep your eye on the prize and make the commitment to exchange the immediate for the ultimate.

It’s not enough to know this truth. We must believe it, stay focused, and consistently commit to make this a reality in our lives.

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