Are You Working for the Present You, or Working for the Future You?

03.03.22 11:40 PM

Having lived in the great Canadian North for a substantial time, one might think that Canadians are used to the bait-and-switch weather of early March.  Even if the Canadians aren't used to it, perhaps the local plant life would be, given the thousands of years it has existed in such a climate.  Yet, despite the collective experience, the snow begins to melt, the weather warms, and some early greenery can usually be seen at this time of year, right before it is unceremoniously buried under a fresh mountain of snow.  The efforts of the Canadians, and the greenery, to enjoy the short-term weather are almost seemingly futile, wasted.  In that effort, though, there is an interesting underlying question that could be asked.

Despite the collective experience, the snow begins to melt, the weather warms, and some early greenery can usually be seen at this time of year, right before it is unceremoniously buried under a fresh mountain of snow.

Where best is the line drawn between investing in future returns versus immediate returns?  The question has long been asked of most things, including in semi-famous scientific experimenting with providing children the option of one candy immediately, or two candies later, and deserves to be asked from the perspective of business.  Just like the Canadian who breaks out the BBQ and cleans his car to be able to enjoy them in the short-term weather, an entrepreneur has to decide on a daily basis where his efforts will be expended.  Is it worth pulling out the BBQ, enjoying a steak, then dealing with the effort of re-packing it up?  Or is the effort better invested elsewhere?  Similarly, is it worth the time invested on the entrepreneur's part to garner a short-term gain, or is that effort best invested in longer-term returns?

There is no easy or clear answer.  The hunt for an answer, though, can begin by looking at the extreme ends of the spectrum. On the one side is a focus solely on immediate returns with no plan for the future.  This might be analogous to a company that is partaking in a cash grab, where their customer satisfaction or longevity is not a consideration; they want to get in, make as much money in the immediate timeframe, and get out.  Different from those capitalizing on a window of opportunity, this end of the spectrum is reckless in its trade of future benefit for the immediate gain, and the entrepreneur will sacrifice even the largest future gain for the smallest immediate gain.  This sort of nearsightedness is unsustainable, and will end in catastrophe.

Where best is the line drawn between investing in future returns versus immediate returns?

The other end of the spectrum is the entrepreneur who will sacrifice absolutely everything now for a greater return in the future.  Inherent in this, though, is two major flaws: the impact on the current state, and the definition of what the 'future' is.  To call back to the children and the candies, the entrepreneur on this end of the spectrum would sacrifice today, tomorrow, and the rest of his life's candies for a billion candies later.  The result would be an entrepreneur who goes his entire life without ever indulging in a candy, and dying before ever getting to reap his investment rewards.

It is evident, therefore, that the answer must lie somewhere in a balance, but that balance is case-, person-, and business-specific.  BMI calls the discovery of this balance "Wellth Management."  Every business owner (and every employee) must come to the understanding of where on the spectrum they want to be, where they are currently, and how to move from the current to desired state.  Without the initial self-reflection and ongoing check-ins, a business owner will be sporadic, careless, or impulsive in decisions; the type of impulsive decision-making that can set back plans substantially.  For the month of March, therefore, take the time to reflect on what your goal of future is, and how much present-day indulgence you need (because it is a need).  By actively framing both in the mindset of finding a balance that meets both current and future goals, you will be able to decide easily, and guilt-free, when to defer to the future, or when it is, in fact, time to break out the BBQ, no matter the future cost. 


- Your BMI family

BMI Wellth Management Services are designed to help you find the balance.