Honestly, I think every stupid decision people make is because they can’t think more than fifteen minutes ahead.
That argument you just “won” against your life’s companion — how’s that going to affect your relationship for the next few years?
That clever company name you picked out that just happens to be the same as the name of a popular movie — what happens when people try to find you by typing it into Google?
That client who you just swindled with a campaign that’s a carbon copy of every other campaign you ever did — what happens when they find out? What are they going to say to your next potential client?
When you notice your girlfriend or boyfriend is treating people rudely, is it a good idea to ignore that, or is that going to be you getting treated that way next, maybe for a long while?
That freelancer who you decided not to pay — or “forgot” to pay for six months — what are they going to say when somebody asks them about your company?
That sweetened Starbucks coffee you’ve started to have every morning — what’s that going to do to your wallet? To your caffeine habit? To your waistline?
That business you built by a “creative” application of labor laws: what’s going to happen when the state of California decides not to let you get away with that? Are you listening, Uber?
The tenth time this month that you ended up yelling at your kid — how are they going to feel about themself after 15 years or so of that?
That decision you made to cut your prices — is being the low-priced option really the reputation you want? Who will you end up competing with? Is that the space you want to occupy in your customer’s brain?
I’d tell you it’s not that hard, except that it’s very hard. Because the urgency of surviving today is tough to ignore.
It’s simple. Just ask yourself what is going to happen if you keep doing what you’re about to do. Ask yourself what others who are important to you will do in response, and what you will do next. Ask yourself how much work it will be to undo the habit you’ve gotten into, the reputation you’ve created, the tradition you just built in one little decision.
Is it worth it?