I once had two offers on the table.
On one hand, I was offered $16,000 to complete a project, which, start to finish, would take me about 1 month to do.
On the other hand, I had a potential retainer-based client who offered a significantly smaller payday in that time frame. At about $4,000/month, it would take me 4 months to make what I could in one month with the client.
I want to ask you something. What would you do in this situation?
Why I Don’t Want to Grab Dinner with You
Before I tell you what I did, I want to give you some background info to help you understand my thought process, so let’s take a step back for a second.
Ever since my late teens, I had one, very specific goal: “When I become a dad, I want to go to all of my son’s baseball games.” That was the thing that kept me turning down invites to expensive restaurants and working long hours while my friends were out partying. Nothing else mattered as much as being present in my future kids’ lives. It sounds simple, but it’s something that not every father (including my own) gets to do.
I was asked recently if I regret that choice, and the answer is no. I don’t regret any of the things I gave up in exchange for the life I can now provide to my family.
Sure, it may suck in the moment to know that your friends are going out and having fun without you, but, in the long-run, that shit doesn’t matter. Not every Friday is a cause for celebration.
Don’t get me wrong. I still splurged on the things that were important to me. I paid off my car 2½ years early. I traveled around the country, but I didn’t do those things just for the hell of it. I planned, and I saved, and I prioritized. When I looked at my choices—go out to the bar and throw away my money on overpriced cocktails or visit a place that I’d never been—the answer for me was clear. Hell, if I was going out, it was to my own events—where everything was comped. It just goes to show that you can have fun but be smart about it.
With that in mind, let’s take another look at those two offers I mentioned in the beginning. There’s a couple more details I should mention about that second $4,00/month option.
- We “got” each other. I knew exactly what he wanted, and he trusted me to make it happen.
- There was no set end date. He had a lot of ideas and wanted help with implementing them all.
Does that change anything for you? It did for me.
Sure, I could have taken the easy payday—one month of work for $16,000—but that would have been shortsighted. Instead, I was thinking long-term. How much can I make in a year? At $4,000/month, that’s $48,000/year. Sure, the instant gratification from that $16,000 payday would have been nice…initially. But, by the end of the year, it would have been clear that I had thrown $32,000 down the drain.
Let’s not forget that, had I taken the one-time $16 grand, I would have to spend more time finding and courting another client, learning about their processes, and building that relationship. That’s why, in 99% of cases, I’ll take the opportunity to build a lasting relationship over a short-term contract with a set end date.
That’s my advice for anyone else seeking long-term success: Forget about the get-rich-quick schemes that prey on our desire for instant gratification. I look at the so-called hustlers, the Instagram influencers, the wantrepreneurs who have no plan for the future. They just flit from one payday to another, focusing on instant gratification, not long-term success. That’s a great way to waste your time.
Instead, zoom out on the big picture and start building those lasting sources of income that will carry you through both feast and famine.
“I don’t buy out the bar, I bought the night spot” –Jay-Z, “30 Something”
That’s the problem with instant gratification. In the moment, when you’re blowing your cash on designer clothes and partying at the local hotspot, you feel on top of the world, but you wake up in the morning with regret.
We live in a time when everything is at our fingertips. Craving pizza? It’ll be at your door in half an hour. Looking for a date? Download an app, and swipe through an endless number of choices. It’s easy to become spoiled.
Then, there are the countless advertisements, blog posts, and life coaches who are all trying to sell this “quick fix” mentality as the cure to everything that ails you.
That addiction to instant gratification, for many, carries over to their business dealings, and that’s a problem. Long-term progress isn’t as easy as ordering a pizza or landing a Tinder date, and we have to stop acting like success is just 3 easy steps away.
So, listen, I want everyone to be successful, and there is plenty of business out there in the world to make sure everyone can have a slice of the pie. But, the more you focus on instant gratification—the small picture—the easier you make it for me and the other big picture thinkers to take that lion’s share and secure the future for our children’s children. That’s how you stay 3 steps ahead.
About the Author
Michael Speer is a digital marketing executive at Michael’s Wilder. He shares his experiences with entrepreneurship, creative marketing, and balancing a hectic work schedule with his life as a devoted husband and father.