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  • Writer's pictureLian Shoemake

Wimpy's Lesson on Deferring

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

Those of us "seasoned" enough to remember the Popeye the Sailor cartoons doubtless recognize the name Wimpy. In those animated shorts, Wimpy was a recurring character who was obsessed with hamburgers. His sad lot was that he never had the money to actually buy one even though in the era of those cartoons, the cost was someting like a nickel or a dime. However, this never deterred him from pursuing his favorite food. His infamous identifier was his catch phrase, "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." While initially, the inclination may be to totally dismiss Wimpy as a deadbeat (which he pretty much was), maybe he was partially onto something there pertaining to the concept of deferring.

To illustrate this concept in a different way, consider a budgeting technique used in California for education spending during difficult financial years. The state will sometimes "defer" payments to school districts until after they would normally be due, in order to make the budget seem solvent in the budget year. California's fiscal year runs July 1 through June 30, so a deferral scenario could include deferring a payment a school district would normally receive in May, until July or August, which would actually mean the district would not get part of its funding until the next fiscal year. That leaves districts dipping into reserves or borrowing to cover the gap created by the deferral. Of course, one of the state's prime mandates is to provide a full free public education to its children, via funding to schools and districts. So in deferral years, the state is actually going all Wimpy on the districts: "I'll glady pay you in July for a robust public education for our students today."

In both the cases of Wimpy and California, the desire for instant gratification provokes a need to find a creative way to achieve it: "I must identify a way to get what I want NOW."

Using that logic, consider the contrast of how many of us view things that we see every bit as valuable to ourselves as Wimpy's burger and California's schools. Let's consider happiness. How often do we articulate and internalize ideas like, "When I get meet the right person and get into a relationship, then I'll really be happy." Or "I'll be happy when I finish this certification program, andI can start making much better money."

This is the Anti-Wimpy mindset, in that instead of identifying ways to get what we want now - happiness - we create a way to defer it to a later date. We identify an obstacle to getting what we want instead of finding a way to get it now.

To underline this further, in our Wimpy and California examples, there actually are monetary costs to be considered, be it the nickel for the burger or the millions due a district. Still, the priority is placed on what is desired NOW. In our happiness example, there is no monetary cost, yet we counterintuitively tend to create one ourselves, be it time, money, the attention of another person, etc. We willingly create a condition to defer our own happiness. In many cases, happiness deferred to the future usually stays there: in the future. Happiness itself can only occur in the present moment anyway.

So here's to tapping in to our inner-Wimpy. Openly allow and expect happiness NOW, without condition!

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