The Compounding Effect of Unresolved Problems

We all are familiar with the compounding effect of interest rates. The longer the term of a loan is, the more money you pay back to the lender. Even worse, if the term is twice longer, you don’t pay twice in interest, you pay more than twice. In other words, it is not a linear problem. And if you skip a payment, the interest keeps compounding even more. The same can be said of in everyday life problems. Let’s create a scale to measure the level of concern caused by a problem. Say zero is no concern, no problem at all; and 1000 is the worst concern, the worst problem you may ever have. Imagine now you have a small problem, for instance, a level-10 problem. Since it is a small problem, you don’t worry much and don’t try to resolve it immediately. You keep going on with your life as if you had no problems. But remember, the concern is still there, and once in a while your mind wanders, goes back to the problem, and it reminds you of the concern, anxiety, or as a minimum, it distracts you for a moment. Since your mind is not one hundred percent present in the things you need to do every day, you will make mistakes. Some mistakes will be small, some will be big. These will cause a new problem, say a problem of level-5, and now you have two problems, instead of one. When you have two problems that are concerning you the compounding effect starts working. You don’t have a concern level-15 (10+5), but a concern level-10 times level-5, that is a concern level-50. What happens is that your mind has now three things to worry about, the two problems and the present activities of life. Even worse, very often, the two problems are related to each other, or are intertwined by a cause-effect relationship. Your mind keeps distracted more frequently than before, and is likely to fall into the next problem more easily. In no time, without you realizing , you will have three, four, five problems, and the compounding effect will accumulate so rapidly that very easily you can reach the highest level of concern (level-1000) and give up mentally. Your brain shuts off, your energy disappears, you anxiety elevates, depression sinks in, and you fall into a zombie state.

How do you get out of the compounding effect of problems? The same way you get our of debt from a bank: pay as quick as possible. That is, tackle your first problem as if it were a big problem, act quickly, and resolve it as soon as possible. Don’t let simple and resolvable problems take over your life. Make a “to resolve” list, and keep it short with no more than two items, two problems at most. If you let it grow to three, four, or more problems, you will fault and begin the bankruptcy of your life.

Good luck resolving!

C.A. Soto Aguirre©

Marriage is Like an Arrow

A few years ago a good friend of mine got married after two years he met his girlfriend. He asked me then to give him an advice on how to keep a good balance between career and family. After a few days of pondering an answer I came up with this analogy that I want to share with you. An arrow is made of two parts, the sharp arrowhead and the shaft. An arrow without the head won’t work; an arrow without the shaft won’t work either. Each part in an arrow has its function: the arrowhead cuts, penetrates, advances, goes first; the shaft gives direction, weight, and supports the arrowhead. An arrowhead without the shaft doesn’t know where it should go. An arrowhead without the shaft doesn’t have the weight or force to penetrate deep and will stay shallow. A shaft without the arrowhead is dull, cannot advance, the air drags it; it is just a stick.

Twenty-first century couples have jobs, careers, and of course, most of the time, children to raise. So, the question of my friend was not an easy one. How do you share the responsibility of raising children and at the same time, hopefully, advance in your career. What I told him was this: you and your wife should be like an arrow, and you both -together- need to decide who will be the arrowhead, and who will be the shaft. The role of being the arrowhead or the shaft doesn’t have to stay forever, and you both may decide to switch roles along your married life. Whoever is the shaft of the arrow should take care of all the supporting activities to make the arrowhead shiny, sharp, penetrating, advancing forward and achieving his/her career goals. The shaft is the base of the family who takes care of most peripheral activities that consume lots of energy to liberate the arrowhead for the achievement of his/her career goals. Whoever is the arrowhead should work hard, advance, shine and execute without distraction. The arrowhead brings the financial stability to the family by achieving upper levels in his/her career thanks to having a shaft that pushes behind and support the overall goal of the family. What I also told him was that under no circumstances, they both should not play the same role at the same time. If both of them are arrowheads, the family gets unattended, the children mislead by the surroundings, and although you both may get to higher levels in your career, the family will eventually suffer. If both of them are the shaft of the arrow, there will be a lack of achievements, with fewer opportunities for the family to advance. Although it will initially be better off, a time will come when the lack of prosperity will catch up with the family, and they may lose their financial stability.

Is it possible for each partners be a full arrow with an arrowhead and a shaft? The answer is a clear yes, but you need to be aware that a very few couples are able to achieve a perfect balance. It requires lots of energy, and diversifying your skills in both areas (as an arrowhead and as a shaft). If you are both working as a team, as it should be, it may be easier to play one role at a time, become good at it, and progress together.

Ask yourself: am I the arrowhead, the shaft, or both?

C.A. Soto Aguirre©