It sucks to be in pain.

The type of pain doesn’t matter; it could physical, emotional, or financial. It just plain sucks. And for all the obvious reasons, when you’re in it, you want nothing more than for the pain (or problem) to go away.

You want things to get back to what is normal. You want relief; you want the pressure from the discomfort to go away; and you want it to happen stat.

Think about the last time you were in pain (or, maybe it’s right now as you read this), did you (or are you) …

…seeking a fast, quick solution to ease your pain?

Or, solve your problem?

If yes, then join the club. It’s a natural reaction.

Quick, instant relief is perfect when you want to get rid of a headache or calm an upset stomach. But when it comes to money matters – especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your debt – the quick way may relieve your pain (aka solve your symptom) in the short-term, while causing more pain and problems in the long-term.

This is what I was explaining to a client recently. She wasn’t buying it.

And, I get it. I understand where she’s coming from from both a personal and professional perspective.

Because the allure of fast, simple solutions is intoxicating – whether you’re talking about getting out of debt or building a business or something else.

Don’t just address the symptom

So you identify what’s wrong (or what’s keeping you from reaching your goal); you identify a quick way out of the situation; you proceed full speed ahead. Pain relieved; problem solved. Done.

Or, are you?

The “fast and quick” approach can blind you to the real problem. In business, it can have you thinking you have a sales problem, when you actually have a business model problem. When it comes to debt, you can think you have a spending problem, so you fixate on cutting expenses. However, you don’t address the earnings problem that you also have, but don’t acknowledge.

Unfortunately, the symptom is often confused for the root of the problem.

As I shared with a colleague, unless the pain/problem you are addressing is truly fleeting, the shortcut will always cut you short. “Fast and quick” can have you in a cycle where you’re addressing the symptom and not the root cause of the problem – and you don’t even realize that that is what you’re doing.

So, what do you do when you want to go quickly and someone like me is telling you to slow down so you can come up with the smartest, most sustainable solutions?

Remember this about most financial shortcuts. They:

  • Feel good in the moment
  • Encourage you to measure all actions and movement as being of equal value and delivering an equal outcome
  • Allow you to avoid the effort or internal work that you really need to do (sustainable change happens because something on the inside – mindset, behavior, choices, etc. – changed)
  • Often cause you to be so angry and resentful about your circumstances that you don’t see how focusing on the short-term benefit is obscuring your ability to see and pursue the long-term benefits
  • Cause to see choices that buy you time as being on par with the choices that address the real problem (or source of the pain)

Especially when you’re feeling the pressure and you want your reality to be different than it is post haste, stopping to make certain you’re fixing the problem and not just addressing the symptom, can be hard. It can feel like you’re wasting precious time and losing much needed money.

Choose to fix the problem requires a bit more patience; it requires trust of yourself and the process; it requires vision.

And it requires running every decision you make through a filter in the form of a question you’re willing to wait to get an answer to: Is this the smartest, most sustainable path forward?

The benefits of asking this question are aplenty:

  • Helps you develop a game-plan that satisfies your urge for immediate relief AND sets you up for long-term success.
  • Ensures you’re looking at and evaluating the right data.
  • Prompts you to review your decision-making process.
  • Helps you to discover what you don’t know you don’t know about your situation.
  • Helps to objectively assess the risk you’re taking against the risk you’re choosing not to take.

Ultimately, the problem with financial shortcuts is that it seduces you into thinking you’re only applying a shortcut mentality to money matters. But more likely, it’s a pattern you use when it comes to other areas of your life…and you don’t even realize it.

So, when it makes sense to opt for the simple, quick solution, do it. Just make sure it makes sense. Otherwise, you’re blocking your long-term success, especially when it comes to money.

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