Saving Yourself from Short-Termism
I’m suffering from short-termism. You could also call it short-termitis, or maybe short-term’s disease. But short-termism is used to describe the phenomenon when businesses focus on short-term results at the expense of long-term interests and gains. Whew, that sounds familiar! I’m so focused on the short term with wedding planning and moving into the new place and furnishing said place, that my long-term interests are suffering. I haven’t been staying on top of my expenses, I get worked up quickly, and I haven’t been spending any time growing my business prospects. I’m all about working through my quadrant one urgent and important tasks. And all of my urgent and important tasks involve paying up: paying for a new pool key ($25), paying to get the mail keys ($65 but I’m looking for cheaper), paying the DMV registration (about $160 with the smog check). I wish that was the worst of it, but those are only my smallest expenses. All in, I am looking at thousands in expenses leading up to the wedding, for the honeymoon and for our new home. I am frustrated when I feel like we could be doing more, but we’re sidetracked or just doing other things. We’re focused on the short term and it feels like it will be impossible to do anything that is good for the long term in these next few months.
But the good news is that there are things you can do even when you are stuck in short-term mode. I’ve been focused on the long term and felt pretty good with how things were going, but the reality is that some things are short term, urgent and important, and need to be taken care of quickly. A wedding that is fast approaching is one. A new condo you just bought but aren’t living in yet and still paying rent on your current place is another. Of course we want to move quickly, but we also want to have some things, say, a refrigerator and a bed. So what have I done that helped me escape from short-termism for an even shorter term?
Cut our cell phone bill
I pay for four people in the family and pay the majority of the bill, which kept edging up, and was at nearly $230 per month. Thankfully, our carrier now offers those $40 per line for tons of talk and data, so this bill will now be $160 per month. That’s $840 less that we will pay towards telephones in the next 12 months. It is still a lot of money and I know that. We’ve also been good about not upgrading any of our phones, so when I find something cheaper, we can make a switch.
Even when I really don’t want to, I get up on weekday mornings and go work out. Weekends have to include a long hike, run, tennis match or something active and outdoors or I just feel bad. I already have a dress and that baby does not stretch so I have to stay in shape. Exercise keeps me alive and sane. There’s nothing like being all pissed off and then going for a run and totally forgetting everything that was bothering you. Endorphins and adrenaline are my friends.
Check a few things off the list
In short term times like these, I make lists. A lot of lists. In several different places I find myself making the same to-do list over and over again, from my phone to my laptop to the legal pad on the desk, to the agenda of some unrelated meeting. But even though it seems manic, when I rewrite my to-do’s, I often get them done faster or I find new ways to get things done just because I have written out the task a few times.
Short-termism is a long-term philosophy at the expense of the things you value most: your relationships, your long-term gains and good behavior that can change your life. So if you’re in it now, you can still stay grounded and find ways to take care of long-term, important priorities while putting out the short-term fires.