Do You Want Short-Term Patches or Long-Term Sustenance?

By Jeremy Harrison

December 26, 2012

If given the choice, would you take $10,000 today, or $500/month for the rest of your life? 

While logic tells us to take the ongoing payments -- studies have consistently shown that most people are prone to take what they can get RIGHT NOW, ignoring the added long-term benefits that come from waiting. 

I've noticed that this also applies to the way we make decisions in our work. 

Last week, I wrote about a content snowball - telling how a single blog post I wrote 3 years ago had just 9 views the first week, 90 views the first month, but 9,000 views 3 years later, and counting.  By writing dozens and dozens of blog posts, it created a growing flow of traffic to my website.

But here's the catch... I invested lots of time in those first blog posts a few years ago, and had very little traffic to show for it.  It's only when looking back long-term, and when compounding all that traffic from all those blogs that I see the benefit.  

When clients hire our company to do marketing work, they often want us to focus on work that brings a rapid return on investment. This is understandable. But things that bring a quick return on investment are often not sustainable. They bring short-term benefits. So then we must do MORE work that brings a short-term benefit.  And then more work.  And then even more work...

I'm afraid most people spend their careers doing lots of short-term benefit work. Some will blame it on their boss who wants results right away.  But I'm convinced that, even when left to our own devices, we will often choose to do work with a short-term benefit, instead of work that has a much greater benefit over a long period of time.

Here's what this looks like:

Short term vs long term benefit

It's like taking the $10,000 today instead of the $500/month for life. 

As a small business owner, I get it.  There are plenty of months that I need RIGHT NOW results, as opposed to long-term results.  But to be successful, I must do just enough short-term benefit work to pay the bills, while planting seeds with long-term benefit work that will sustain the company for years to come. 

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