Taking shortcuts is often looked down upon and considered cheating. Yet, it has its advantages and disadvantages.
Having gone climbing a small mountain yesterday, I ended up taking a shortcut by going outside of the original path. While on it, I saw clear pros and cons that were affecting me directly. We were a group of four and 2 of us took a shortcut while the two others took the original path.
The first and obvious advantage of taking a shortcut is to save time. This usually also is the first motive that makes us go for a shortcut. We expect that the path we are on will take longer than if we took another one. Our impatient nature originally only sees an advantage in taking a shortcut and the risks are overlooked as we imagine a future coming to reality sooner than planned.
In my case yesterday, that meant reaching the top earlier which would thus mean being back down sooner and being able to go to an Onsen (Japanese Hot Spring) more quickly. In a different situation, such as learning a language, this can mean being able to say certain things earlier than originally imagined.
By going outside of the standard path, you are required to think on your feet and discover a new way to go forward. This can be done in countless ways and we are usually prepared to take such a challenge when we make the decision to go around the original one.
This further allows you to find new opportunities or skills. Indeed, as you look for new ways around, you may fall upon unexpected but somehow related aspects, people and such. You can then keep on branching out and develop useful skills that will in turn open more doors.
Going back to my own experience yesterday, taking the shortcut allowed me to push my body further and get to a point where we were able to keep on climbing while seeing Mount Fuji, which wasn’t possible from the original path.
All the above forces you to forge yourself a positive attitude with an open mind. Indeed, taking a shortcut is not an easy task and only a strong mindset will allow you to go through the potential hardships to come.
Going outside of the path yesterday, while seeming like a great idea at first, made me reconsider my choice because it became really tiring and the shortcut seemed to take much longer than expected, with no end in sight.
This brings me to the disadvantages of shortcuts.
The main disadvantage of shortcuts is that they create risk. You first have the risk of never being able to come back in track. By stopping the original task and starting another one to reach the same goal, you may spread yourself too thin and lose track of where you are and how far you’ve gone. In such cases, you could end up deciding to come back to the original path but you will then have wasted some of your precious time. This is when having an optimistic mindset can save you.
You could further miss something important. The “normal” path we usually start on is not considered standard for nothing. The reason for any path to be set in a certain way is that it is supposed to work well. Skills, opportunities and knowledge acquired on the way are usually there for a reason: reaching the goal fixed in the best way possible.
In my case yesterday, there were small notable points here and there to appreciate and going outside the path made me miss them as well as the hurdles of going through difficult parts on the way up. (Luckily, I took the standard path on the way down and was thus able to enjoy them as well.)
I mentioned such a potential risk in my post a few days ago about skipping basics when learning a language. While skipping some parts may feel like it will allow you to reach your goal faster, it may also backfire in the long run and make you regret such a decision.
Finally, there is a risk of having been too optimist and thus realizing in the middle of the “shortcut” that it will in the end be only harder and may even not allow us to reach the goal fixed.
This, most probably, was the aspect that got me the most worried yesterday. What if I had gone way too out of the path and ended up lost in the middle of nowhere in the mountain? This could have tired me out a lot more and taken much more time to come back. Luckily though, this didn’t happen and we reached higher up a different path going to the same mountain top.
It is important to be optimist and at least consider shortcuts. There are always ways to improve not only ourselves but also the path we get on.
For instance, we used to believe that internet was incredible and could never go faster than 56k or 128k in the end of the 90s and still, now, this seems like a senseless idea to have the internet be so slow. The reason behind this is that some people were not satisfied with this and wanted to improve it further and further.
Shortcuts can be both a blessing and a curse depending on how and why we approach them. Follow you instincts, learn from your mistakes and choose the right shortcuts so that you will keep on improving but also stay true to yourself and your goals.