Are Shortcuts Worth Taking?

“It shouldn’t be easy to be amazing. Then everything would be. It’s the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth.  When something’s difficult to come by, you’ll do that much more to make sure it’s even harder – or impossible – to lose.” ~ Sarah Dessen

This quote gave me the warm fuzzies because of the amount of truth it holds. It’s human nature to want to take the shortest route to our goals. I mean who doesn’t want that? It’s shorter, it’s faster, it almost looks better, too much luck. No?

Have you ever sat back and thought how far you are from the things you want to achieve, especially if you had set some timelines for yourself during your youthful days. Like when you want to start your first job, finish your masters or PhD, get to manager (or CEO) status, start a young family, publish your first book, buy your first car, build or buy your house, start a business, go for a global tour. Our lists are endless and quite diverse.

Freeway

Credits: @Comark

In my project management class, I was taught something called the critical path. You know the realistic and longest route it takes for you to eventually reach your end goal, with time-stamps and allocated resources. The thing with projects is that you can at least make your estimates, because most activities are predictable based on trends, and if all factors are held constant – especially the resources – though it sometimes happens that while some take off, others go on a different tangent. With life, it’s pretty much unpredictable, just when you think you’ve gotten it all figured out, it throws you a curve ball. And we spend the better part of our lives, dealing with these curve balls.

The next thing you know, you’re completely behind your schedule and you feel like everything is dragging along with you. That you’re already too old, while other people that are younger than you are doing much better than you. That you’re too broke, while other people are having the time of their lives. That you’ve lost your bearing, while other people around you seem to have it all figured out. It’s always about others setting best practices and benchmarks, that end up making you feel like you’re not at par.

And when shortcuts come our way, we think, why not? I mean, if you could bypass certain processes and phases to get there, why not? Especially if it comes when you’re feeling like you’ve spent your prime years chasing some things that once seemed promising, but have left you feeling empty. After doing some reading here and there, I have come to realize that nothing goes unnoticed. Everything you do under the sun leaves an imprint in the world. It helps create the chapters in your book. It might not be a best seller just yet, but then again, not everyone is meant to be a best seller. You could still make a great read, and influence that one reader. Also, don’t say I said it, but a best seller don’t necessarily equate to a great read. A great read is heavily subjective.

The other thing with shortcuts is,

  • You end up missing the point. It’s like reading a book and you decide that you’ll just read the first chapters and the last ones. Forgetting that there’s so much that goes in between that makes the story what it is. And the moment you miss out on those parts, you might think you know and understand it all, but you know none of it.
  • You don’t serve your time. When you don’t serve your time, you come out prematurely and not ready to handle what comes next. When you serve your time, you’re on-boarded, you learn the ropes and you’re prepared on how to handle anything that comes your way as a result of the progress.
  • You don’t take ownership. There’s something about going through the rough patch that makes you take ownership of the process. A rough patch doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re failing or doing badly in life, it just means that you’re putting in your time and effort in the process, in order to get where you want to be – you’re not there yet. That you’re willing to read through all the chapters of the book to understand what it’s all about, getting into the characters, not just drawing conclusions because you think you know it all.
  • You take things for granted. Because if you didn’t sweat for it, then it’s not really worth your salt. Trust me you’ll feel it, you’ll know it, and you’ll treat it that way. You might be happy you’ve finally reached the goal, but a part of you will still feel unfulfilled, and you will die to make it right. You might even undo some things to try and make it right in your eyes.
  • You miss out on some lessons. Each step of the process is a lesson learnt, whether positive, negative or neutral. And it’s one that you can pass along to someone else in the same predicament, because you’ve been there done that. Don’t benchmark yourself with others – your life is not a business that should be lived through the ‘best practices’ of others. As long as you’re aligning your actions to what you want to achieve, even if it takes years, you will get there in due course. The moment you compare yourself with your neighbor, you start losing the plot. It’s a mistake we make a lot and sometimes subconsciously.

Basically, be cautious of the shortcuts you take. Some may be worth it, and others may be unnecessary. Sometimes experiencing the process may give the outcome more worth than when you bypass it. Enjoy reading the book, live in every page and every chapter. Get the depth of the story, because the beginning and the end might cheat you into making the story seem rather obvious, but the in-bewteens might prove you wrong. There’s a reason!

Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*