When you come to think about it, it looks like a lot of short-term goals are opposed to some long-term ones. For example:

  • This morning I felt like sleeping in, but if I had, I wouldn’t have made a few important calls that will help one of my businesses grow.
  • I love cookies, but I also like having a six-pack.
  • I don’t feel like doing yoga today, but if I don’t my back will start hurting soon.
  • One of my friends was complaining the other day that she didn’t have a job, but she decided to spend all her day reading a book than looking for a job.

But, let me make a very important point: I’m not saying that you should always do what’s good for the long-term. I love eating cookies and sleeping in eventually. I think that if you always do what you should instead of what you want, you’ll be very unhappy because you’ll never allow yourself to enjoy anything. At the same time, if you always do what you want instead of what you should, you’ll eventually be unhappy when you realize that you’re not accomplishing anything, you’re out of shape and out of health.
So, what’s the right thing to do? There’s no right answer. But here’s my takeaway: Be aware that every action you take has a consequence. When I’m about to eat a cookie I make a conscious decision: I can either eat the cookie and accept I’m putting crap (and deliciousness) into my body, or I can have neither the calories nor the deliciousness. Indulging yourself moderately is very important; the problem is when you neglect the consequences of your actions. Or even worse, when you eat cookies and then complain about how fat you are.
If you think about it, every problem in the world has a very simple solution:

  • Are you overweight? Eat less, better and exercise more.
  • Do you want to improve the relationship with your wife? Spend more time with her, listen to her more, get her presents, take her on more dates and have more/better sex with her instead of working so much.
  • Do you not have a job? Put together a killer resume, look for wanted ads, learn about the companies you’re applying to work for, send them a customized cover letter, be charming and win people over with solutions to the company’s problems.

I’m not claiming that these are EASY solutions; I’m saying they’re SIMPLE. What I mean is that it’s pretty obvious what to do to fix a problem, but sometimes we lack the discipline to do what we know we need to do. In any situation keep in mind that you have two options: you can do what it takes to fix a problem or you can not do it. Either option is OK, as long as you’re aware of the consequences of your actions.
You’re probably about to write your resolutions for 2012. You’ll have two options: you can work every day to make your resolutions happen, or you can give up around February when you realize how difficult they are. Let me close by repeating a very important point: I don’t think that long-term goals are more important than short-term ones. We all need cookies, sleeping in and being a little lazy once in a while (or whatever your indulgences are). The key, as always, is balance.