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December 28, 2010 / joelmalm

The Road Less Traveled. Part 2

“Live like no one else today so you can live like no one else tomorrow.” – Dave Ramsey

Delaying gratification means sacrificing now for a payoff down the road.  It’s living below your means so you aren’t strapped when an emergency strikes.  It’s riding your bike while you save up for a car.  It’s suffering through sit-ups rather than eating ice cream.  It’s taking a little longer to complete college so you can pay cash and get out debt-free.

Big future gains always require that you sacrifice current comfort.  You can cram for school and you might just score an A on that test.  You cannot, however, cram for life.

Imagine this: You are a farmer.  You are certain you have found a way to beat the system.  You want a good harvest and you want it now.  All your other farmer friends are out harvesting right now so you decide this is the perfect time.  You plant seeds.  The next day you expect to be running through amber waves of grain just like all your farmer friends – but all you see is a field of dry dirt.  You become frustrated that life is treating you so poorly, so you seek a psychologist or pastor.

If this farmer came to you for counseling what would you say?  I’d recommend he get out of farming, because he obviously doesn’t understand the most basic of agricultural principles.  I’d direct him to what Jesus said about the process in Mark 4:28.

It’s elementary my dear Watson: Harvests come after much preparation and waiting.

Life works the same way.  But somehow we have been duped into believing this rule doesn’t apply to us.

We live in an amazing country where you can get anything you want right now.  You don’t even need money to do it.  You have a plastic friend with limitless resources:  Mr. Visa

Supply-side economics thrives on creating immediate needs.  I need that car to get to work.  I need an iPhone for business.  I need nice clothes to be respected.

We NEED all this.  So, we go out and somehow manage to scrape up a harvest that we never planted.  The car, the house, the boat.  The only problem – it’s an illusion.  The Piper marched out with all your rats in tow, but now he’s back and is calling you round the clock wanting to be paid.

If you want to thrive in life you must learn to delay gratification.  Sure, it’s no fun and not as glamorous as living big now, but in the end you get the big payout.

So here’s an experiment:  Think about something you want to buy soon – a car, a bike, a new TV or even a house.  I dare you to hold off for one year on making that purchase (unless of course you have cash for it).  Save the money you would be making on payments.  If one year later you decide you still need that thing, nothing but good will have come from that one-year-wait because you will either a) have a healthy down payment to plop down on that item or b) have decided you really don’t need it.  Either way you have shown yourself that you have some self-discipline and that always feels good!

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