Cramming for the harvest


posted June 18, 2018

Byron R. Moore, CFPMost important things in life cannot be crammed.

You remember cramming. It was a skill I learned well in high school.

I would ignore learning any relevant material outside of what was required for day to day academic survival, until an appropriate interval prior to a big test. The interval may be 30 minutes to 24 hours prior to a big test, depending on the teacher. Having procrastinated as long as possible, I would read the high points of the material, perhaps including some Cliff Notes if it was a big test. Usually the items I was seeking to cram into my short-term memory were factoids I had identified by that time-honored method of academic inquiry…asking the teacher, “Is this going to be on the test?”

So cramming works…in some situations, most of which are not very important or beneficial over the long-term.

In fact, cramming is usually a short-term solution that simply delays or anesthetizes a long-term problem.

There are some things in life that just can’t be crammed. Almost all of them are really important.

I remember Stephen Covey wisely identifying one place you just can’t cram. The farm.

Imagine a farmer sleeping through the spring and spending the summer at the beach. When fall rolls around and its time to harvest something, can he now plow rows and plants seeds and expect anything to happen?

Cramming is seeking to live life via a series of quick fixes. And we should all acknowledge that quick fixes often work. That’s why they are so popular. Quick fixes often work…until they don’t.

We can see the quick fix vs. quality cultivation in so many areas of life.

Health. Most people know that long-term quality cultivation of health comes through a combination of proper diet, exercise and rest. But that takes a long time and it requires the development of discipline. So we fall for a series of quick fixes: diet pills, surgery, performance-enhancing drugs, exercise equipment gimmicks, and all manner of books that promise results with no effort.

Relationships. The difference between the quick fix and quality cultivation can be seen in two very different approaches to relationships these days. One is “friends with benefits.” All the privileges of marriage with none of the constraints. The other is “till death do us part.” This terribly old-fashioned approach actually believes that a relationship with constraints is the best way to cultivate a relationship that will last.

Money. I see a lot of financial cramming in my work.

The decades of the twenties, thirties and even forties are spent living for today with no thought that tomorrow might actually come. Mickey Mantle, George Burns and Eubie Blake are all credited with saying, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

I can’t count how many times people have said that to me on their first visit. That and “I should have done this ten years ago.”

And the “diet pill” that they usually want me to prescribe for them is an investment with above-average returns and below average risk. Well, they sell that on late night TV and talk radio. It is the stuff of Ponzi schemes.

But it doesn’t exist in real life.

A healthy financial life is cultivated over time with a balance of protection, savings and growth strategies that maximize wealth and minimize risk. And, generally speaking, the more time you give it, the better.

Some listen to that kind of boring, un-sexy advice.

Others demand wealth with no risk, no money down, no fees, no thought required, auto-pilot “strategies” and definitely no reduction of their lifestyle.

Too often I see these folks on the rebound, having discovered what they really knew all along. Most good things in life can’t be crammed.

Because cramming usually results in crashing.


Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information here.


Argent Financial Group

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, Argent Financial Group (Argent) is a leading, independent, fiduciary wealth management firm. Responsible for more than $30 billion in client assets, Argent provides individuals, families, businesses and institutions with a broad range of wealth management services, including trust and estate administration, investment management, ESOPs, retirement plan consulting, funeral and cemetery trusts, charitable organization administration, oil and gas (mineral) management and other unique financial services. Headquartered in Ruston, Louisiana, Argent was formed in 1990 and traces its roots back to 1930.

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