Long-term vs. Short-term

My dream life three years ago was traveling and working remotely. Now it’s only a few days away.

I’ve followed my interests and been lucky enough to find cool opportunities to do very cool work that can be done anywhere with a wifi connection. But as it approaches, I still experience conflict in my mind about the decision to pursue this life I’d been dreaming about.

Traveling is the thing that makes me feel the most alive. So traveling is something that I want to do more of, but there is still a voice in my head, let’s call it the career voice, that is telling me it would be better to find an apartment in a city, network, and grow my career.

Experiencing this makes me think back to deciding to quit my job three years ago.

In the fall of 2013, I decided to quit my job and go travel. I didn’t have any grand plan. I simply wanted out of a bunch of stuff I wasn’t enjoying in my day to day life.

In the lead up to quitting and leaving, I experienced quite a bit of career anxiety. The thought kept running through my head that this would make it hard to find a good job, that taking such a long career break would mean making less money in the future, or that I could be investing the time in some certification that would help my career in the future.

Six months later, after traveling, I was glad I didn’t listen to that anxiety. My outlook on my career and my life had changed completely. Taking time to travel helped me see the things that I was missing in my day to day life.

As I think about the anxiety I’m experiencing today, I remember those moments three years ago and don’t give the career voice much respect.

I know that in the long-term it theoretically may be better to move to a city, to go to networking events, to learn a practical skill and to try and make a bunch of money. But, if there is anything that I have learned about decision making over the past five years it is that choosing excitement in the short-term is usually good for me in the long term. Choosing the thing that makes me feel most excited and alive in the short/medium term is the best guide mark for the long-term. 

This doesn’t mean avoiding hard work and only doing what is easiest at any given moment. Don’t sacrifice the long-term completely. But remember that your whole life you’ve been taught to sacrifice the short-term for the long-term.

My whole life up to age twenty-three was about making common sense and solid long-term choices. I chose the safe route and took hardly any risks. It left be numb, bored, and apathetic.

Choosing the things that make me feel the most alive in the short term make me more likely to invest in myself in for the long-term. Trying to think only about the long-term leaves me bored, disengaged, and less likely to invest in myself.

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