The title is a quote I read in my favorite business book “The Millionaire Fast Lane“.
When you fix problems instead of masking symptoms, you stop making easy choices that prevent pain or discomfort temporarily.
If you have a constant toothache, but take pain killers daily instead of going to the dentist, you’re masking a symptom.
If you’re in a relationship with constant arguing and disagreement, but stay for sex or to avoid loneliness, you’re masking a symptom.
You should get yourself to the dentist as soon as possible.
You should end the relationship and meet someone you’re more compatible with.
Masking a symptom just postpones the inevitable.
You’re going to have to do it anyways!
Imagine yourself as a kid back in school having to give a presentation in front of the class.
The teacher asks: “Any volunteers?”
You don’t dare raise your hand, you can’t stand the fact of being in front of class with everyone staring.
What’s does this result in?
You make a bad thing, worse!
By not volunteering, your nervousness and fear grows.
If you go now, you can get it over with and it would be less painful.
Instead you sit there, watching classmate after classmate present.
With each clap at the end of a presentation, your fear and paranoia grows.
You have a confused look on your face, you shift your weight, and dread being called to present.
The teacher calls your name since she is no longer taking volunteers.
By now, you feel as if you have to do better than everyone one who already went.
You walk up to the front of the class, it’s quiet, and everyone is staring at you.
You feel like a comedian whose audience stays quiet after a poor joke delivery.
What would’ve happened if you would have just gone early (fixed the problem) instead of waiting to be called (masking a symptom)?
Masking a symptom is a complete waste of time, its reverse thinking.
My tooth can wait. This relationship will get better. I’ll present last, it’ll be easier.
No my friend, it won’t.
Masking a symptom will ALWAYS do more harm than good.
Sure, you’ll get a little satisfaction now, but that tooth is only going to get worse and cost more to repair, that relationship will only waste valuable time that you could be using with someone who’s right for you, and that presentation is going to get harder and harder to face.
Masking symptoms is what most people do, it’s the “easy” and quick solution.
How many people do you know with the following schedule:
Work, go home, eat, watch TV, go to bed.
They repeat this cycle week after week, year after year.
What symptom are they masking?
Is it that they aren’t happy with their job, stress, low pay, etc.?
They zone out in front of the TV to escape reality.
Listen, this is totally understandable.
When you aren’t satisfied with your reality and you feel like there’s no way out, you seek and enjoy your pleasures when you can.
How else would you stay sane not zoning out and relaxing, feeling that you can’t change your reality.
…but you can change your reality.
Read my article on Why You Should Become an Entrepreneur, it’s a great to start.
Let me give you an example of how I masked a symptom instead of fixing a problem.
One day I got a flat tire.
When I inspected the tire, I noticed a screw was causing the air leak.
Instead of going to repair the tire, I went to the gas station to fill it with air.
The air would last 3 days before the low air warning reappeared on my dashboard.
So every 3 days I was making a trip to the gas station.
It cost me a dollar, in quarters, meaning I had to go inside to get change if I didn’t have.
Instead of going to a local car shop and patching the tire for $15, I would spend $1 and waste time every 3 days.
I did this for about a month.
I saw it easier, faster, and cheaper than sitting in a car shop and waiting for them to repair it.
So every 3 days for about a month cost me $10 in air.
Was that a HUGE amount of money that left me bankrupt?
No, of course not, but that’s not the point.
You see, fixing my tire cost me a lot more than it should have.
Instead of paying $15 (fixing the problem), I paid $15 to finally repair it + $10 in air and time wasted at the gas station (masking the symptom).
Would it have been smarter, cheaper, and a more economical to just go patch my tire?
At the end of the day, I still had to eventually fix it.
The problem was not going to go away.
Most people make decisions like this on a daily basis.
They pick an easy and quick solution that doesn’t address the issue permanently.
The temporary fix just comes back to cost them more or create bigger problems.
Whether it’s escaping your reality, fixing damaged teeth, ending a bad relationship, fixing a flat tire, etc…
Fix the problem now, don’t make a bad thing worse.