Which do you value more? Long-term or short-term results?
I’ve been thinking about what I value in my life and in my business. This comes up periodically in a coaching group I’m part of, and I struggle every time to make a list of my values.
Some values are easy to think of and write down, like responsibility. Some values aren’t so easy because I have to face some truths I don’t like. I might claim to value creativity, but I have to think about whether that’s true. When’s the last time I sat down to purely create?
And since we’re looking at actions during this shelter at home time, it would appear that I value cookies more than good health. I’m calling values like these, aspirational values. I want them, but when I take the time to think about them, I’m not quite living them in the moment.
Interestingly, all my aspirational values are long-term results values. Unless I consciously think about living them, I have trouble with many longer-term goals. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have any long- term values that I live by (I do!). But when I come to one of those disconnects – a value I want but don’t live day to day, it tends to be a long-term value.
Neither are good or bad
It’s more a matter of being intentional about what you want and what you pursue.
Good short-term results
- Quick cash when you need it
- Connection with others-social media
- Endorphins from a workout
Good long-term results
- Building a business based on knowledge not hours worked
- Network of colleagues you can count on & who can count on you-relationship building
- Strong and healthy body
Why values with long-term results are hard
I have an aspirational value of health. Right now, I’m in very good health, and I want to stay that way. I know that one way of living this value is to prepare very nutritious smoothies for snacks instead of reaching for something like a packaged protein bar.
One day of a protein bar instead of a smoothie is fine. A week of that substitution isn’t. I get most of my actual vitamins in those smoothies.
What makes the smoothie harder than the protein bar? For me, it’s the time to make the smoothie instead of just grabbing something already made. It’s keeping 13 million ingredients all on hand and fresh. It’s the noise of the blender disturbing my husband who’s on a conference call and I don’t want to wait 5 minutes. It’s the blender carafe that I’ll have to wash afterwards.
It’s probably different for you. Even to me, those seem like ridiculous reasons. But in the moment, they gang up on me. I have to slow down and realize they’re ridiculous.
Why am I telling you this story about smoothies?
Because it applies to your business too.
How many people work all day long on things that don’t get you where you want to be? Or even, who scrolls through Instagram looking at pretty pictures instead of doing real work?
Even client work can count here. I often do client work instead of working on my own business. If I really value my business though, I’d be spending more time building it, right?
The client work does bring the short-term results of more cash, happy clients who write good reviews, novelty, maybe even praise. And if you work with great clients, you get to socialize, and feel good about doing work for them. You feel good right away.
But the long-term success of your business will depend on things like planning, content production, product development, team management, and financial reconciling. Those pay off big in the future, but bring very little reward in the short-term.
Sometimes the pursuit of short-term results hampers the long-term results. And you need to figure out and own which you want more.
Using habits can help you live by your aspirational values. I find that setting an intention for a habit, such as, “make a smoothie for your snack,” only goes so far. It doesn’t get me past those barriers of actually making the smoothie. But, if I have a calendar that I can make checkmarks on when I make a smoothie instead of reaching for a packaged snack, I do 800x better. I actually get a short-term reward just for checking off a day.
Find something that will help you build habits that let you live your values. Checklists, trackers, and calendars are very helpful. Some people like affirmations, and others like sticky notes all over the place. Phone reminders and other tools can also help out.
Aligning short-term values
Cultivating a value with shor- term results that leads to living an aspirational value is a little convoluted sounding, but hear me out. If you can align a short-term result with a long-term one, living these values will be so much easier for you.
For example, if you value building your business, but you find yourself putting off content creation in favor of playing Internet games (you’re welcome for this blast from the past), figure out how taking the action of writing can embody a value you already have.
I value helping people. So every time I write, especially when it’s a struggle, I take a moment to think about someone I’m helping. If even that’s hard, I go to my analytics and see how many people have read my articles. Or I look at feedback I’ve gotten on social media or email. Those small “hits” of short-term feeling good fuel my writing habit, which in turn, is living my value of building my business.
I’m not sure if I’ve gotten this idea across – I’d love for you to let me know. I’m feeling a bit unmotivated this week and I’m having trouble focusing. I just know that when I look at my values, and what I want my values to be, I become much more intentional about what I do every day. And that keeps me living those values rather than heading through life on autopilot.