"We're all geniuses in hindsight," "Hindsight is 20/20," and "If I knew then what I know now ..." are sayings that illustrate how we strive to make better choices. But no matter how much we try to think through our choices in advance, we make mistakes. Decision-making is not an exact science. Some mistakes are more costly than others. They are all part of life's journey.

Nothing will ensure that all of your choices will create the results you want, but there are some things to consider which can produce better outcomes. Considering the short-term and long-term consequences of making good business decisions can help.

In her soon-to-be-released book, Living Life With No Regrets, my wife, Anne Bachrach, interviewed Dennis Collier, a registered dietician and certified exercise physiologist. She asked Dennis, "What is the impact of choosing not to lead a healthy lifestyle over the short term and long term?"

His answer may have a profound, positive impact on your business health and fitness. He said, "This question really gets to the root of the cause of why people often choose not to do the healthy things. The key is this: There are minimal short-term consequences to making the unhealthy choice. In fact, quite often it is just the opposite-the unhealthy choice is the one that is most pleasurable. This applies to many things in life, not just health and fitness."

In another part of the interview Dennis adds, "Few individuals can honestly say that eating a spinach salad generates the same immediate pleasurable sensation as eating an ice cream sundae. On most nights, it is immediately easier to go home and curl up on the couch instead of going for a workout in the gym. It is only in the long term, after a lifetime of such choices, that the negative consequences rear their ugly heads. My friend who has lost a great deal of weight said it best when asked how he, an intelligent, successful man, could have allowed himself to go through life so obese for so long. 'I knew that it was probably going to kill me, but I also knew that it probably wasn't going to kill me tomorrow!'"

What about you? Are there things that you do with your time that you know are killing your business, but are not going to kill your business tomorrow? What would happen, over the long term, if you stopped doing those things? And what about the things that you are not doing that are killing your business but aren't going to kill it tomorrow? What would happen, over the long term, if you started doing those things today?

Dennis continues, "The key term we could all benefit from exploring is that of delayed gratification. We need to shift our focus from the pleasure that we will immediately get from the unhealthy choice, to the more fulfilling life of abundant health and energy that will surely come to us if we choose to make the healthy choice.

The results that come with delayed gratification are more fulfilling. This is an important realization for everyone who strives to be successful. No matter how much pleasure you derive from indulging in activities that deliver short-term gratification, it pales in comparison to the fulfillment you get from the results of delaying gratification.

The same can be said for making good business decisions. It's easier to read an article about the market or the economy. It's easier to do research about the next great technology tool. It's easier to help your assistant do an administrative task. If you don't ask for referrals today it isn't going to kill your business. If you don't make follow-up calls today it isn't going to kill your business. If you don't improve the value you deliver for your clients today it isn't going to kill your business. If you don't get more organized today it isn't going to kill your business. 

String those days together, however, and after a few years you find yourself smack-dab in the middle of mediocre-land. Mediocre production. Mediocre quality of life. Mediocre clientele. Mediocre value proposition. My guess is that you didn't enter this business intending to put down permanent roots in the heart of mediocreland. But that's exactly what happens in the long term when you choose what feels good today and avoid what might be uncomfortable, yet more results-producing.

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