So my microwave is getting slow! That is what I told myself recently while waiting to warm up a bowl of home made chicken soup. (It was so good by the way). Now the reality is that my microwave has not changed speeds at all, but my expectation of it has. It’s human nature to want fast results. Now let’s add to that the constant barrage of social media, navigating the results of a global pandemic, outbreak of war, an economic period of re-adjustment, and most of us are not in the mood to pause long in expectation of any result, let alone think long-term. We just want things done (like an item in the microwave), fast!
Ever since the pandemic came upon us, I’ve been resetting the way I think about time, and consciously embracing long-term thinking. Maybe it was the time working from home, or the solitude of not sitting in a coffee shop, or maybe it was just seeing clients, friends and society in general struggling, but I have been pondering it a lot. Reflecting on our expectations of self, others and timelines, has been something I have done with my clients in their businesses and careers, and been trying to apply it to my own day to day.
I have been inviting all I meet to start thinking - long term. So what does longer term thinking do for you?
Re-orienting your point of view to the long-term, you force yourself to ask questions like “In 20 years, will I be proud of this?” Such questions enables you to resist pressure in the moment and make the right decisions based on values and ethics, not immediate gain or loss. It makes you “Pivot, not Ping”, as I like to say. You change not with the wind or a wave, but adjust with wisdom.
CHANGES YOUR GOALS
As Jeff Bezos observed, “”If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue.”
Long term thinking sets you apart. In sets you apart in your career, in your business and in your personal relationships too. You permit yourself sometime to "bask" in wins, to learn from woes and to clairify wants.
When you think long term, its not hours, days or weeks that pause you, but seasons. There are seasons, (and I don't mean weather here), but seasons in our life when some things are expected, and some where not so, and we have to respect them. One season you might focus on work when you start a new job, for instance and then times when you might need to refocus for example likely pull back when caring for a sick relative.
We have to respect the seasons. And with a long-term mindset, you recognize: There’s plenty of time to shift your focus back to work, or whatever your key projects are. Rebalancing changes you and allows you to grow in gratitude for the moment, especially moments precious to another that may never return again.
In Episode 10 of my podcast “You Can Make It So”, I touch on this with the concept of the “Bank of Goodwill”. Check it out. Long-term thinking isn’t just “nice to have”, like a speedy microwave. When we embrace it, it’s a step toward becoming the kind of people we want to be. We begin to live with a serenity that keeps us on purpose.
We become a people who have good habits, who are gaining growth, meeting goals, hitting thresholds, but also people who are embracing a gratitude that makes the habits and growth about something even bigger (and more long lasting) than success – legacy.