There’s always a fierce competition between the ultimate and the immediate. This rivalry can be long enough that one can battle with it till death. This fight isn’t a respecter of person or location. Whether you like it or not, in spite of who you’re, you would have to battle with these two.
Another language for the ultimate and the immediate is Delayed Gratification and Instant Gratification. Genuinely speaking, it is very easy to be consumed by instant gratification than delaying one’s gratification because the mind (if not disciplined) tends to focus more on immediate pleasure. There is always a higher tendency for humans to get easily carried away by the immediate hence procrastinate on the ultimate. Ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle developed a word to describe this type of behavior: Akrasia. The state of mind in which someone acts against their better judgment through the weakness of will.[i]
The deception of the immediate is so strong that many people are unable to foresee its effects unless after a long period of time. It’s old to the extent that even before centuries, it was highly prevalent. For example, during the days of the Haggai, the Jews lost sight of their main priority: building the temple of God. They instead concentrated on other minor things for about 16 years; all in the name of this is not the right time. Yes, they faced external oppositions but that only seems to account for just a very little part of their problem. Their major problem was that they lost their focus. They became slaves to the immediate because they lost sight of the ultimate. (Haggai 1:2-5)
Similarly, in life, particularly in our daily activities, at any point in time where we forget about the bigger picture (our main priority), it becomes very easy to become a prey to any other thing that comes our way. Whenever we fall into such deceit, we most likely derive less satisfaction from a greater investment of our time. Thus, we may be doing many activities but have lesser accomplishment and utility.
It is to this negative repercussion that today we join the Prophet Haggai to fight on behalf of the ultimate so that we will not allow the immediate to disrupt our focus. Focusing on the ultimate is one of the ways to live our lives with a stronger conviction and a better will than to live against our own will. By so doing, we develop the ability to reduce procrastination to its least level.
In order to win more votes for the ultimate, we must seek to apply the 80/20 principle (Pareto Principle); it’s simple but has higher returns. This principle states that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. For example, if you have 10 things to do, there will surely be two strong things that can give you a higher satisfaction than the other 8 put together. The sad story is that oftentimes people tend to focus on the other 8 and give several reasons for ignoring the main 2. But with the right priorities, 20% of your effort will get you 80% of your desired results. [ii]The opposite also works: with the wrong priorities, 80% of your effort will give you 20% of the desired results.
And so, we’re entreating ourselves to concentrate more on our main priorities, the ultimate things of our life. Even though at times we will not feel the satisfaction of the ultimate that much, surely its long-term effect will make us far better off than any other thing. Bear this in mind, activities don’t necessarily mean accomplishment.
Break down the ultimate into pieces and focus on them as often as you can. By so doing, you will not become a slave to the immediate.
God loves you and always want the best for you.