God gave me a brain like a popcorn popper – something is always popping up. That would be fine if all I did was think about those pop-up ideas. Many times, I don’t. I decide it’s time to head off in a new direction.

Fortunately, I married a woman who is the personification of wisdom on things like this. When I suggest a new enthusiasm, she asks me two questions:

* Have you prayed about it? and
* What will you give up in order to do your new grand plan?

The second question is one our society struggles with.

I know people who are graduate school smart yet seem to have a remarkable blindness to arithmetic. They understand our government made promises to citizens, which we the taxpayers have been unwilling to fund. The national deficit runs in the trillions $65,000 per person. Each state has unfunded liabilities or healthcare and retirement. Our our infrastructure is wearing out and needs mountains of money to repair and maintain bridges, roads, dams, sewer systems etc.

Yet those same people reject the notion that if our generation doesn’t pay for what we’re charging to the government credit card, our children and grandchildren must pay the bill. They want more services, but they don’t want to increase taxes to pay for them, let alone pay down the debt.

I don’t argue with them about their desired benefit of the month, whether it’s college for everyone on the national credit card or more generous healthcare coverage for people in our continent. I ask them what they are willing to give up in order to obtain what they think is more valuable?

Hard choices are damned hard. When we refuse to make hard choices we often end up with horrible consequences. Years ago, David Maister described this as “The Fat Smoker Problem.” The benefits are in a distant future we may not see. But the discomfort and sacrifice are right here in the present.

In Building Legacy Wealth I wrote about a speech at a Weight Watchers meeting that summed this all up pretty well. The title was “Pick Your Hard.” For Weight Watchers that meant: “Losing weight is hard. Keeping it off is hard. Being obese is hard. Pick your hard!”

That works fine for individuals. We can imagine the tradeoffs and a better future. That’s all about us, though. We struggle with changing our behavior for the betterment of future generations. That means sacrificing today for a future we may not be part of.

What do you think? Should we change our ways to make things better for our children and grandchildren? What should we do?


Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.