Brain Food #619

Whatever shortcuts you take today will slow you down later

Thoughts of the day

Good morning.

Lately, I have been thinking about shortcuts. People tend to take shortcuts not because of laziness, but for the sake of efficiency, especially under the pressure of tight deadlines. When there is too much to do, and not enough time, shortcuts seem like an enticing solution.

Yet “Short cuts make long delays,” as J.R.R. Tolkien wrote. There are no shortcuts to success. Whatever shortcuts you take today will slow you down later. You cannot learn to play an instrument (or pick up any new skill) without putting in the hours of practice. You cannot appreciate what a book has to teach by skipping chapters. You cannot build a meaningful relationship with someone without spending time with them.

That is also why, often, what seems like an overnight success is actually the result of years of hard work. By taking the longer route, there are more sights to come across, more things to discover, more lessons to be learned - and more time to do so. The solution to shortcuts is to set up our lives in such a way that they no longer look like a promising option, by giving ourselves less to do, and more time to focus on what is important.