This is a phrase that has been on my mind frequently and has also presented itself in the videos I have recorded.
There is a balance between enjoying today and planning for tomorrow. That balance becomes more of a fine line when today includes the concept of “remaining time with freedom” and tomorrow includes “Federal Prison”.
Progress can happen too slowly to notice, while setbacks happen too quickly to ignore. A guilty verdict, or a guilty plea – can be seen as an instant tragedy, although the moments leading up to it have been painstakingly long. In life, instant tragedies are a factor, but instant miracles – not so much. Call me jaded but while they both occur in an instant miracles do not occur as frequently as tragedies. Growth (miracles) are driven by compounding efforts, which always take time.
It can be easy to fall into a trap of wanting your old life back but to get there takes time, and sowing seeds today will get me to where I want to be in all the tomorrows to come.
Look at the progress of medicine over the last 100 years. Even looking at medicine in 5-year sections of time does not show vast improvements, but over 25, 50, and 100 years we’ve learned to cure diseases, eradicate viruses and increase the lifespan of every American.
When faced with a traumatic event the short sting of pessimism can win, but the focus needs to be on the long-term power of optimism and hard work. I am looking for the long-term decisions I can make today that will help me in the future. I spent much of my time before reporting to prison working on my home, which I am going to have rented out through Airbnb. There was an extensive amount of work involved and it was challenging to miss out on other opportunities (kayaking, biking, skiing, camping) so that I could work on my house. But the work I did now will pay dividends in the future – literally and figuratively.
Do something today you will thank yourself for tomorrow
That’s the mindset I’ve been having. Putting on my detective hat and searching for long-term wins, which usually come with what emotionally amounts to a short-term loss. Another example, a Roth IRA conversion.
Saving for retirement is as much, if not more, of an emotional/behavioral challenge than a financial one. Any amount saved is a win. But money saved is not spent or enjoyed today, with the hopes that the enjoyment of it will be greater in the future. For me, that is conceivably when I am married and have children.
A traditional IRA is a deduction from your income (you pay less in taxes today) and then your investment grows but is taxed in the future. The idea behind a Roth IRA conversion is that you convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA but in doing so one must pay taxes on it today (technically in the calendar year). Gahh! What a bummer – increasing the amount I owe in taxes BEFORE I go to prison?!? On the surface, it sounds like a coarse deal. However, that retirement account then grows and can be withdrawn in the future tax-free.
Pay some taxes now or more taxes later?
The cost-benefit analysis is different for everyone, but even simply pondering this lines up with the concepts above – planning far out for your future even if it stings today.
So do something today you will thank yourself for tomorrow. Sowing seeds for the future almost always involves a downside in the present but that is the essence of delayed gratification. If you can find joy in delayed gratification you win twice: now and tomorrow.