Think about a small, distasteful task you’ve been putting off. Now tell yourself you have to make a choice: do it today, or do it tomorrow. Which do you choose? Most of us want to wait until tomorrow. Seem logical. Postpone something that you dislike. Okay, now you have the opportunity to do something you will really enjoy. Imagine you can do that thing this instant or tomorrow. Which do you choose? Strangely enough, even though it’s enjoyable, most of us don’t choose this instant. Why? Because we like looking forward to things, and doing something right away doesn’t give us any anticipatory pleasure. 

For me, travel represents the intersection of these two traits. I love to travel—in theory and in practice. I enjoy being in new places, having time away from work, experiencing novel sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. But I also hate traveling—in theory and in practice. I don’t like having to take the time to plan a trip in the midst of my already hectic life. Packing is stressful. I worry I might forget something. And then there are the long lines, heavy traffic, TSA, and cramped airplane seats, to mention just a few. It’s enough to make me want to stay put.

But this year Ron and I grabbed the bull by the horns and will travel more in the first six months than we did in the past five years. Why? Because someone told us it’s important to front load the fun. And that rang true. It’s always been so much easier to say we’ll take the big trip next year, because a big trip is both hard and enjoyable. It taps into both reasons that I like to put things off.

But big trips make memories, and when you’re sick or older, or are just having a lazy day on the sofa, memories bring you joy. In life, the more fond memories, the fewer regrets, the more satisfaction. So instead of saying that we’d take a vacation when we have more time and money, we took that vacation now. And even though it was hard to plan, difficult to fit in, and caused our bank account to hiccup, I can say we did good. And the payoff will be with us for years to come.

So what about you? What does front loading the fun mean in your life? Do you put things off or jump in immediately? And what are the rewards?

 

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