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  • Writer's pictureDavid Knell

Easy Now, Hard Later or Hard Now, Easy Later

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

I took the girls out on an hour-long drive tonight around Provo. It’s now almost five weeks into COVID-19 social distancing, and I needed to see something other than the inside of my own house.

As we neared our house, I could see that my eldest was drowsy and trying to sleep. Any parent knows that falling asleep just before bedtime can mean a child will be awake long past bedtime. So I called her out of her near-slumber. “But I’m so sleepy.”

I had a tactic come to mind: “But you don’t want to sleep without Pooh Bear (her stuffed animal of choice), do you?” Meaning, wait until you’re in bed at home to fall asleep.

But I didn’t say this because this second thought immediately occurred to me: what if there comes an evening when we want her to fall asleep in the car and her Pooh Bear isn’t available? If I encourage an inability to sleep without him to make this moment a little easier on me, I may unintentionally be setting myself up for a situation much more difficult to deal with later.

Working in a software company, the metaphor that came to mind was “bugs.” Often in software development, you are tempted to take a short cut by hacking something into the code without spending the due diligence to properly research, design, and test it. If you go this route, it tends to come back to bite you later on in the form of a buggy app. Code gets more complicated to maintain the older it gets and the more you add to it. So adding shoddy code now because it’s easy, fast, and convenient can end up requiring a lot of extra work later fixing it (more than you would have spent doing it right the first time.

When you take a shortcut, knowing that at some point you’re going to have to correct it later, is known in the software world as “technical debt.” You take the easy route now and make your future self pay the time and effort to do it right.

How does this apply? In at least this one instance, software development has a parallel to child development.

Children come with their own personalities and challenges and temperaments. As parents, it’s our job to help these little people develop into physically, spiritually, and mentally healthy adults.

If I take a shortcut now because it makes my life easier, what problems am I giving them down the road? If I yell at them to be quiet, they may be quiet for a moment, but what silent damage am I causing their developing little psyches? If I don’t make an effort now to avoid lying, cheating, insulting others, I make life harder for them later as they struggle to act differently than the example that was modeled for them.

This applies to just about every aspect of life. Don’t exercise today, more medical interventions later. Stay up late tonight, tired and low willpower tomorrow. Study an extra 30 minutes now, perform better on the exam tomorrow. Avoid sugar today, enjoy a clearer head and brighter mood tomorrow.

May we do the hard thing today, so we can enjoy a better day tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

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