Short-term or Long-term

From short-term decisions like takeout for dinner to long-term decisions like funding an investment portfolio, we decide to spend value on the immediate or on the long-haul. Value might mean money, time, or will. Either way, it’s vital to choose intentionally. We’re either leveraging value right now or maximizing it for later.

Short-term decisions alter our moods, kick us into gear, and maintain homeostasis. These salves help us get through the day, but the value they use isn’t renewable.

Short-term value:

  • Fast food, dessert, takeout
  • Social media
  • Caffeine
  • Driving
  • TV shows
  • Doomscrolling
  • Upgrading to the latest smartphone
  • Sitting in traffic
  • Meetings
  • Fast fashion
  • Venting to friends
  • Moving around constantly

Long-term value:

  • Learning to cook
  • Gathering with friends
  • Deep sleep
  • Walking
  • Movies, documentaries
  • Reading
  • Investing in hobbies
  • Planning ahead
  • Headspace for creative, strategic work
  • Durable goods
  • Finding a damn therapist
  • Staying for a while

This list obviously isn’t extensive: it’s simply meant to illustrate ideas for shifting from short-term value to long-term value activities. In fact, this is my list. Yours will, should, look different—reflecting your life and goals.

While some short-term value spending is necessary, we can work to minimize it to make room for the future. Long-term activities bring a sense of security and build opportunity successively. They generate learning, enduring experiences, and help us build our internal compass—all of which we can share with others. This makes life a lot more interesting.

Much like the stock market, there will be missteps, mistakes, and the occasional regression. But in the spirit of Bob Ross, these “happy little accidents” are their own valuable, long-term activity. Learning to weather the storm of life and experiment means building the most enduring trait of all: self examination. Self examination leads us forward when we’re stuck, dissatisfied, or lost on where to go next.

Have faith for a moment and believe that this focus is worth it: life becomes fuller, more validating, and aligned with where we want to be. You could say, it pays dividends.