Here’s the challenge: our brain is wired to seek out pleasure & avoid pain. So in the moment, if left to its own devices, our brain will often choose the immediate “gain.”
It’s not until the next day, month, year or decade that we see the cost associated with that decision and eventually regret it.
Here are some examples:
- You stay up really late to finish a work assignment or project before going to bed.
Short-term gain: You feel good about getting the work done.
Long-term cost: You are tired the next day, which negatively impacts your cognitive functioning, most notably your awareness, communication & decision-making. As a result, your productivity and overall effectiveness at work decreases.
- You “eat or drink your feelings” after a stressful day.
Short-term gain: The comfort food & alcohol provide a short-lived “feel good” boost.
Long-term pain: a) Negative health implications associated with a poor diet & excessive drinking. b) The next day your mind goes back to the stressors. The eating & drinking doesn’t replace the thought process, it just delays it.
- You lash out at your child for making a mistake or doing something that reflects poorly on you.
Short-term gain: You experience a brief sense of relief by releasing your pent-up emotions. You also subconsciously protect your ego by making mistakes or poor performance about them rather than your own parenting/leadership ability.
Long-term cost: You regret your words or behaviour once emotionally diffused, which can lead to feelings of guilt and/or inadequacy. The child’s confidence declines & they become fearful of mistakes, which negatively impacts their future performance, leads to more potential stressors and strains the relationship moving forward.
So how do we combat the urge to choose a short-term gain over a better serving long-term gain?
Here are some strategies:
- Leverage the pain associated with that quick fix! Get clear on what the “cost” associated with your frequently chosen short-term gains is (as demonstrated above). If we are able to paint a clear picture of what we are really sacrificing for the short-term gain, we are less motivated to resort to it.
- Get clear on which “gains” truly matter most to you, and why? (e.g. what is your life’s mission, and which choices will fuel your ability to fulfill it? how do you want to be remembered?)
- Get realistic about the short-term costs associated with the gains that matter most to you. If we understand that there will be a cost associated with the pursuit of our gains (there always is), we can build the mental resilience necessary to overcome the adversity when it arises. This step makes the difference between staying on track in the pursuit of our long-term gains when the going gets tough vs. resorting back to a quick-fix/ short-term gain.
Need help getting started? That’s what we’re here for! Please reach out to book a consultation with myself or one of our other certified mental performance coaches.
Your highest potential is our passion here at team Elite, and we look forward to helping you along your growth journey
– Coach MJ