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. I want to be an advocate for short-term thinking for increased success!
This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. Please read my disclosure policy here.
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. This really 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. I know! I was there.
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.
You tell yourself that 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.