You’ve finished making a big meal.
Preparing, cooking, and putting the finished product on the plate.
Or so you think.
There still is that dirty pan staring back at you. The last thing you want to do is clean the pan. It’s dirty, you’re hungry, and it can wait. It can always wait.
You’re given a choice: Clean the pan now or wait until later.
The longer you wait, the more difficult it will get.
If you clean it right away – before the grease hardens – it’ll be easy. If you wait until after you eat the meal, it’ll be a little more difficult. But if you decide to do it tomorrow? Forget it. You’re going to spend what feels like an eternity scrubbing away on that damn pan.
A Metaphor for Life
Cleaning the pan might not seem like a big deal.
Except that it represents many of the challenges of life.
The longer you put off a problem, the harder it will get to solve. Which will lead you to put it off some more, which will make the problem harder. And then you’ll put off solving that ridiculously hard problem.
It’s a never-ending, vicious cycle.
Imagine the person who doesn’t pay their credit card bill.
If he pays it right away, he cleaned the pan.
But if the same person spends months (or years!) without paying his bill, he will have a difficult problem on his hands.
The credit card company will increase his debt exponentially. His credit score will plummet. When he goes to get a mortgage, he’ll find it impossible (unless the year is 2007).
Can he still clean the pan? Of course. It’s just going to take more effort than the person who paid his bill the day it was due.
It’s Never Easy
Exercise, business, reading. Anything else you’ve been filing away in the cabinet of “I know I should do this on a regular basis but I don’t.”
Cleaning the pan is about choosing the difficult path over the easy one.
A simple concept in theory, but there’s always something that comes up. There are always reasons that inch you towards not cleaning the pan. These factors pop their little head up and say, “Hey, wouldn’t it be better if you just ate the meal? Why does it always have to be so hard? Take it easy for once.”
But then you eat your meal. And then you enjoy your favorite show plopped on the couch. And then you go to sleep.
You’ve been sucked into the trap of cleaning the pan tomorrow.
When you cook at home, the food is typically cheaper and higher quality.
So by cleaning the pan right away, it makes it easier for you to cook tomorrow.
If you saw a dirty pan on your oven, odds are you would just call the nearest place for delivery. Pizza sounds good. Or maybe McDonald’s.
Cleaning the pan right away means your next meal is going to be cheaper and higher quality. Cleaning the pan keeps you in motion.
The next time you want to cook… You have a clean pan you can cook with.
Cleaning the pan isn’t a big event. It’s a small, often forgotten, task.
It’s never easy to clean the pan.
Because you’re hungry. Because it can wait. Because it doesn’t seem like it’s important.
But this is true for so many of little tasks in your own life. Finishing the last set. Paying the credit card bill on time. Doing five minutes of meditation daily.
Cleaning the pan is about more than just a pan.
It’s about living a life focused on the details.