Long Term Vision
Blue skies. Blue waves. White surf. Light brown, fine sand. You know, the kind of sand that can find its way into an unopened water bottle. My brother-in-law broke out the skim board – something I have very little experience with. But I’m a competition kinda guy. I like a good challenge. So, after carefully observing the craft, I grabbed the board and stood ready for the perfect wave – I saw my opportunity. Without hesitation, I threw the board skillfully at the thin sheet of ocean water, jogged behind the board focused on the task at hand, and hopped onto the board. For a moment, the world stood still. I was gliding across the sea surf like I’d been doing it my whole life! Well, for about 0.001 seconds I was anyway. Then, abruptly, I crashed into the sand and was immediately SMOKED by the next incoming wave. Which I’m sure was only three-foot-tall, but felt like a maverick. I sprang up quickly as if to avoid embarrassment, and realized something: my sunglasses were gone. I searched frantically for my not so cheap pair of shades only to come up empty handed.
Needless to say, I couldn’t find my shades and we still had a week left at the beach. I was forced to go shopping for sunglasses. My wife and I took the Xterra out for a spin to the nearest outlet mall to find some glasses. I wasn’t really in the mood to spend $200 on a pair of sunglasses but I figured we’d look anyway. We shopped for about an hour and a half only to come up empty. And you want to know something? It was NOT because I didn’t find a pair I liked. I found a few pair that I fancied quite a bit! The reason a purchase wasn’t made was due to a tight budget.
Now, let’s focus in here for a second. I make a fine salary and so does my wife. We have no kids. We have practically no debt. So, how could we be even close to strapped for money? The answer is easy: Vision.
As a young adult, I see my friends buying brand new trucks and fun toys. I see my peers going on nice vacations and traveling the world. And you wanna know something? THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. If you can afford it, and if that’s what you and your spouse want to do, why the heck not?! But here is what I’m scared of… I see people 40 years ahead of me barely scrapping by financially because they failed to plan. I see stress on their shoulders and weariness in their eyes because they just rode the wave of life instead of traversing it. I don’t want to be that person or that family. MONEY IS NOT EVERYTHING. I am a firm believer that money is by no means necessary to be happy. However, in the short time that I’ve been a functioning adult, I’ve learned that money is a heavy hitter in the stress game. Having financial wiggle room gives you space to breathe. Bills don’t stop. Time doesn’t take a break. There is no pause button. So, having some money in the bank, while not being required for happiness, is still a game changer.
That being said, my wife and I have had multiple conversations about our future and we have decided to sacrifice up front so that we can have the quality of life we want down the road. We are investing in something we believe in – We The Heroes.
We have decided on long-term vision over short-term satisfaction. We would love to take more trips (I’m actually typing this from the beach), but we are willing to give up a vacation a year to invest in something that will pay dividends later on. I’m willing to drive my crappy, old car so that I can put my, what would be, truck payment towards our vision. I’m willing to proudly don a cheap pair of Walmart sunglasses so that, later on, my kids can get the education they need to pursue their dreams. Eye on the prize. Yes, it’s a bit of sacrifice right now, but it will be worth it later on. In the words of Sam Witwicky: “No sacrifice, no victory.” (Yes, I just referenced Transformers. Reason number 78394 why you should listen to me.)
So, my question for you is this: Where are you headed? Have the courage to look 5, 10, 20, 40 years down the road and ask yourself: “Is this where I want to be?” If not, make the necessary changes. Look, I get it, we can’t plan for everything, and life is an expert at throwing curveballs, but we can be smart about our current choices leading towards our eventual future. Take the time to think about it and adjust accordingly. Long-term vision over short-term satisfaction.