People always address now problems before they work on later problems.
On one night in 2004, you might have had two choices. You could go out for a fancy dinner with friends, or you could buy one share of Google at their IPO. A couple of decades later, your dinner is forgotten but the shares are up many times.
Of course, some people did buy that stock. That’s not because they encountered an opportunity to save for their retirement 18 years later. It’s because they told themselves a story that people in their shoes sent money to the market that day. They turned a problem in the future (retirement) into a problem for the now (I’m a loser if I go out to this dinner instead).
Our story about the future is in the now, regardless of how far away the future is.
All we can do with the future is experience our story about it right now.
All problems are short-term problems if we tell ourselves the right story. But we usually don’t, because we discount the future significantly. A grilled cheese sandwich today is more important than two grilled cheese sandwiches next week. Unless we tell ourselves a present and urgent story about what it feels like to ignore the future.
Because sooner or later, we live in the present. A present filled with stories and cultural pressure and the urgencies we invent for ourselves.