1 min read

Debt We Must Pay

Most people struggle plenty with personal, financial debt. It is hard to think about the long term consequences of our short term actions. But we don’t have a good way of describing how there are compounding, long term impacts of almost every choice we make, especially if we don’t take action to head off the trouble early.

The world of software development has the most succinct way of talking about idea; a concept called Technical Debt. When you cut corners because of budget constraints, or a release date, or because you just want to get something out the door quick and dirty — you incur debt. If you don’t take the time to go back and clean up your work, that debt snowballs when you keep adding to your test a few more times, and then it gets really popular, and you focus on making the short term experience better instead of the code.

I love this idea as mental model for evaluating life choices. Cramming is the price to pay for “educational debt”. Smoking and sedentary lifestyle incur “health debt”.

Not every choice impacts you in the longterm, and not everything you build has to be forever proofed. Sometimes the choices need to be repeated before they start to hurt. Sitting at home instead of seeing friends is just a peaceful night off — but do it for a month, and your friends will wonder where you and when you will pay off your “relationship debt”.