Stealing from tomorrow

Listening to Ray Dalio in How the Economic Machine Works ( I highly recommend clicking the link and watching the video if you have 1/2 an hour.), it becomes clear that debt creates cycles. These cycles are what shape the economy. There is straight, linear growth, plus fluctuating short-term debt cycles, and long-term debt super cycles.

These cycles in his presentation center around money, however, I like to think of investments also in terms of time, the scarcest resource there is. It’s crazy how often people, myself included, “borrow” time from tomorrow for something they don’t feel like doing today. The equivalent short-term example, would be failing to clean the kitchen after cooking because you’re exhausted. Or because writing sounds more attractive. Or playing video games.

Whatever the reason, eventually, the dishes will be needed, and they’ll have to be washed. Whenever that happens, that day will lose time as repayment for the borrowed time from the day before.

For me personally, I’ve taken on the “debt” mentioned above at times through extracurricular activities, like writing this blog, something I’ve enjoyed and wanted to put more effort into. That zeal leads to borrowing time day after day, neglecting car maintenance, or ignoring that stack of mail that needs sorting. Eventually, things caught up to me in other ways, and “balance” was forced upon me, I had to pay back the debt, making me have to do all the other things I neglected.

It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s a powerful way to think about life. The things that are important, need to be accomplished with small, incremental and persistent steps because life needs to stay balanced. If there is something you dream of accomplishing, don’t start by doing too much, start by doing a little, everyday. The other alternative is foregoing the small, incremental steps and ending up with a “debt” super cycle, a huge amount of work to catch up to your ambitions due to skipping the many small steps.

Don’t end up trapped by “debt” take small steps with persistence to get what you want in the future without paying too much for it tomorrow.