We spend too much time on this earth thinking long term.

I know that sounds crazy. “No,” you say, “the reason things are so screwed up is because everyone thinks too short term.”

But actually, I’m right. Yes, it’s important to have a long term view of our lives and our world. But, that view should really be more like a philosophy than a road map. Once you create a long term view of your world, stop thinking about trying to arrive at a destination. Instead, start focusing on short term ways that you can create joy in your life, while staying within the overall philosophy.

I have seen so many stories about those who give up everything for the future, only to get sick or die before they ever reach their destination. They trade their entire lives for a future that never exists. It’s really sad to watch. I know a woman who used to be a wonderful person: genuine, caring, friendly. She traded it all in for money, and today she is a shadow of her former self. Her pleasant attitude is nothing more than a facade that she applies in the morning with her makeup. Her career has blossomed, but she worked 60 hour weeks all through her kid’s teen years. She probably thinks she’s showing her daughter that women can be strong, independent, and successful. I think she showed her daughter that she cares more about a job and her clients than about her kids.

Work is a necessity in this world, that can not be debated. For most families, two working parents are required. That’s fine. It’s also fine to send your children to daycare, and to put in extra hours when you need to. However, you should be asking yourself – what am I getting out of this? The promise of a promotion to middle management? A C-suite job? An extra $5 an hour? Make sure that whatever you are getting is more important to you than the things you are sacrificing to get it.

On Sunday night Nick and I went to the playground. We played and played until he was completely exhausted, and then we started to walk home. The sun was setting, and we were walking across the grass to the sidewalk. We were holding hands. I figured it out: this was the most important thing in the world.

Nick went to daycare today, because I have work to do. Earning money is an important part of my long term life plan. However, I know that an extra hour at the end of the day today is not going to make any real difference to my clients or my boss. But to Nick, it will mean that Daddy loves him, and that the world is a great place where he is loved and safe. Which one of those is more important?