Everywhere you turn, it seems that someone is touting the benefits of long term thinking. If you’re too focused on long term thinking, you lose sight of the success that you can find when you practice short term planning.
What’s so sad is that too many people get advised to “think about the future” instead of living in the present. It’s important to have a healthy balance of long and short term planning.
The long-term portion enables you to dream big and shoot for the stars. The short term efforts allow you to see immediate progress and enjoy the steps you’re taking on a regular basis.
The Limiting Power of Long-Term Thinking
The biggest problem with long-term thinking is that it continually projects everything into the future. You end up always looking at what you’re going to enjoy “someday.” What you can afford “someday.”
The business move you’ll make “some day.” It’s always about where you’re going to go and how you’re going to end up where you want to be. It limits your vision scope, keeping you stuck.
Your “someday” steals the wise moves you could make today. Long-term thinking forces you to keep your nose to the grindstone, always looking for what’s ahead rather than what you have or can do right now.
So what happens is that you completely miss the short term things you could experience that could have more of an impact on your goals than your long term strategy.
When you practice long term thinking to the point that you don’t even consider the short term, you end up laying a foundation of problems. Among these problems are stress, potential burnout and living a life that doesn’t contain things that bolster your momentum and feed your joy.
When you live your life so focused on the long term that you don’t see the good and the joy in the short term, not only can it cause burnout, but it can cause health problems and emotional upheaval.
You can become overtired, overworked and mentally exhausted. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to plan for what you want to see happen in your life. But that doesn’t mean that you should be so focused that you can’t do or see things any other way.
Life is not meant to be a journey of absolutes. It’s meant to be enjoyed as you make your way toward your goals. In order to live life beautifully, fully and get what you want, you need to think in short term if you want success.
Some people want to spend so much time on thinking about long term success that they exist, but they don’t live. An example of that is a couple that scrimps and saves for something they want only to discover in the end that can’t afford what they really need.
They traded short term thinking and living a happier life for something that in the end, didn’t pan out. A good example of long term thinking stealing success over short term thinking is when people go thousands of dollars into debt for a college degree.
This kind of long term thinking ends up not making them happy, many of them don’t really use the degree that they chose to get, and now they’re going to have to spend the next 10-15 years paying off that loan.
What happened was these college students didn’t consider what could happen that can alter long term thinking.
Short Term Thinking Is Better for Life Plans than Long Term Thinking
One of the biggest reasons that long term thinking isn’t as effective as short term thinking when it comes to success in any area of your life is because you don’t get to control all the pieces of the situation.
Nothing ever stays the same. People will change their minds. What they believe today, they won’t next month. What they want this year, they won’t want next year. Couples get together and then break up in a matter of weeks, months and even after twenty or more years together.
The person who has his life in order can fall apart. Everything you wanted can collapse around you. You can work for years to get that job you wanted or to start that business only to discover it’s not what you thought you wanted and you’re absolutely miserable.
Of course, these are always things that happen to someone else. We don’t figure problems and changes into our long term thinking. We only focus on the good that we think is going to happen.
The choices that you made today, you won’t make tomorrow because your thought process isn’t going to be the same. It won’t be the same because you won’t be the same.
That’s what makes long term thinking less likely to increase your success than short term thinking. When you focus on long term thinking, you can begin a pattern of thinking that pushes aside all of your internal misgivings about what you’re doing.
Even if your long term thinking is you striving toward something that you want that’s good for you to have, you can still fall short. You’ll fall short of having a job that you love – one that brings you a lot of happiness.
You can fall short of entering into a relationship with someone you care about because the timing doesn’t fit your long term goals. Plenty of people do this in so many areas of life – especially when it comes to the type of career they want.
What happens with long term thinking is they enter into a trade off and may not even realize what they’re giving up in the present to hopefully gain in the future. You will never get a guarantee that what you plan for is going to happen.
Take a hard look at what you’re doing. Are the things you’re doing now truly helping your life with no negative drawbacks? Are you the person who never gets to see his or her family because you’re trying to make connections that will help your career or will be beneficial as you build your business?
You have to take a step back, away from long term thinking, to consider that maybe you’re not seeing things as you should see them. This can help you make choices that are beneficial for you in the here and now as well as in the future. You shouldn’t have to trade your present to gain your future.
Short Term Thinking Benefits You More than Long Term Thinking
If you focus on anything in your life with a future mindset – the kind of mindset that goes hand in hand with long term thinking – you end up losing. And you end up losing a lot more than you might realize.
When you concentrate so hard on the long term that you can’t see the short term, this can have serious implications on your health, the relationships you care about and your freedom to have fun.
When you choose long term thinking over short term, you’re setting yourself up for future regrets. Another problem with people who lean toward long term thinking is that they can focus so hard on the future that they give up doing what’s good for them.
While people who have a deep drive to succeed often do well because they won’t let anything stand in their way, they pay a heavy price for that success. This price is often paid in the form of ill health, insomnia from the stress of worrying about what has to get done, a poor diet and weight gain.
This all or nothing mindset pushes them forward but is slowly eroding the foundation that they’re standing on, quietly, subtly and in the end, it won’t have been worth it. When you want something, there can be a tendency to go all out – to push yourself in ways that you wouldn’t normally have done.
Long term thinking can cause this inner call within a person to do whatever it takes – to work hours beyond what’s normal, to give a seventy or eighty hour work week or to skimp on meeting even their basic needs.
And what’s so sad about that is that with just a few simple changes, you don’t have to give up long term thinking in order to succeed. You just have to balance it with short term thinking.
When you do that, you won’t carry the same heavy stress burden that you’ve been carrying. You’ll feel better and you won’t be giving up your health. Plus, you’ll end up getting more done.
You do this by learning to tell yourself no, by not eliminating those things that are good for you: healthy eating, getting enough rest, and exercising. You might feel like you’d get more done if you just focused on the long term thinking and pushing ahead, but you don’t.
Your body and mind can’t handle a nose to the grindstone life for long. You have to take care of yourself and put what you need in the present over what you stand to gain in the future. Otherwise, you might not even reach the future.
Let Your Short Term Thinking Work Alongside Your Long Term Plans
It doesn’t have to be an either or, because short term thinking and long term thinking can both be helpful to you. It’s only when you replace one with the other that it can cause problems for you.
There are things that you can do to make sure that you’re living the healthiest, fullest life you can live while you strive to fulfil your long term plans. Set a time limit for the amount of time that you’re going to work toward your plans.
Instead of working seventy and eighty hours a week to accomplish what you want to happen, cut back to an amount of hours that gives you time to enjoy the here and now. Every time an opportunity to further your long term plans presents itself, take some time to consider what will happen to your current life if you accept that opportunity.
If it’s something that will cause you to fall right back into the same old routine of neglecting certain areas of your life, then it’s not a good opportunity for you. Take stock of what’s currently going on in your life as far as wanting to reach your long term plans.
The first thing that you need to do is to check to see if you’re happy. Be honest with yourself. If you’re giving up sleep, you’re feeling stressed and you’re working more than you should, then you’re probably not very happy.
Being motivated doesn’t equal happiness. Being motivated is simply what drives you to do what you do. And this motivation can be driven by wanting a good thing. For example, many people work longer hours than they should because they want their loved ones to have things that they didn’t have.
But if you ask those who care about you, they’d much rather have time with you than the things you’re working too hard to give them. Set up limiting parameters. When you’re working toward an end goal based on your long term thinking plan, rate that end goal on a scale of one to ten for today.
How many things are you going to have to give up – eating, sleeping, entertainment, family time? How many friends will you have to stop spending time with? The higher your score, the more you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing.
Remember that your long term thinking plan was probably created by you – so that you could obtain the happiness that you seek. But you should be happy in the meantime while you’re working toward that plan.
Short Term Thinking Is Especially Helpful in Business Decisions
What most entrepreneurs practice is the art of long term thinking. They make goals that are weeks, months, and even years in the future. They have business plans, financial plans, and plenty of ideas about what’s going to happen when their plans become reality.
But this long term thinking can cause a short-sightedness that causes them to miss great opportunities that they could currently grab. Here’s why that happens.
What many businessmen and women do is they set up their long term goals. They polish up a business plan, they get their finances completely in order and then they open up for business.
Yet, the Internet is filled with businesses that are extremely successful that didn’t follow that kind of long term thinking. Instead, these businesses latched onto success thanks to short term thinking.
Instead of waiting until everything was lined up just right, until their long term goals were reached, they closed their eyes and jumped. By jumping, they found their way to where they wanted to be.
This is the kind of mindset that can help you build anything you want out of life. When a business is built around long term plans, the short term can often sustain plans, such as someone who’s building a real estate empire and discovers home values plummeted.
Short term thinking allows you to go with the flow of changes like these and find the needle in the haystack, the good that can out of things that go wrong, disrupted plans. Short term thinking makes a way, while long term thinking is often waiting for a door to open.
Rather than looking at the big picture, concentrate on short term steps that give you the future that you want. For example, instead of planning to build a huge collection of websites for products “someday,” start right now and build one.
Think about what you can do in the short term. Don’t worry about where your business will be down the road. Just make it what it needs to be today and it will be what it’s supposed to be in the future.
Instead of looking at all that you don’t have to start up your future business – such as capital – look at what you do have – the intelligence to run a business on a budget until you can afford to do more. It’s often the smallest investments that turn into the biggest money making ventures.
Take a look at your current way of planning your life goals. Make sure that you have a healthy mix of long-term plans and short-term activities that can help you achieve those. Don’t be afraid to embrace changes if you want something different.