Psychologists at Kansas State University have shown that if you look to the longer term future you tend to make more positive decisions. They looked at the example of healthcare decision-making and demonstrated that if people were able to look at a large, long-term reward, rather than short-term gain, they tended to make more positive decisions about their health.
What the study shows us is the notion that if you are able to consider the long-term you must be more positively minded than those people who are so anxious about the future they can only worry about the here and now. In other words, if you look forward to the future you are inclined to be more positive anyway. But the study also reveals another important factor. The fact that people are more positive when they look to the long-term appears to encourage better decision-making.
In other words, positive people appear to make better decisions; they are clearly in the right frame of mind for good decision-making behaviour. It is perfectly possible, therefore, that if you force yourself to focus on the long-term future of – say – your web business, the chances are you will become more positive AND the decisions you make about your online business will be better for that business.
The new research provides further supportive evidence that having a “big picture”, long-term “goal” or “destination” for your website is likely to bring greater rewards. You will make better decisions about your web business compared with focusing on short-term gains, such as higher search engine rankings in the next month or extra cash.
There are dozens of examples of Internet businesses which have focused on short-term gain – such as a rapid rise in search engine ranking – and have done very well at that. Online businesses can go from zero to millions of dollars in the space of a few weeks. But such businesses rarely – if ever – last. The online businesses that do well are those which look far away into the future. Rather than worrying about short-term financial gain, they concern themselves with longer term, higher rewards.
Many very successful people will tell you that they don’t worry about the here and now; that, they say, will look after itself if you focus on your long-term goals. Now, this new study tells us why; it shows us that those people who are focused on the future are more positive and make better decisions as a result. Focusing on the short-term encourages poor decision-making, and hence the reason why many busineses that worry about the here and now ultimately do so badly.
So, what does this all mean for your web business? It suggests that instead of worrying about short-term gains (which analytics software encourages you to focus on) you should, instead, think only about the big picture. Have your “eye on the prize” instead of nitty grritty detail. It seems you will make better decisions about your online business if you do.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+