How to Think Long Term

The human mind is like a smart bomb. It needs specific targets, clearly outlined, before it will make an impact. A focused mind, a passionate mind, a committed mind is one of the most potent forces in the universe. —Saleem Rana

Where are you going, and how are you going to get there? Have you been wondering why you don’t seem to progress, even though you’ve covered a lot of ground? Do you have something to aim at, or are you moving ahead aimlessly?

One of the most potent remedies to your aimlessness is to define a target somewhere in the future, and then to aim single-mindedly at that. Long term thinking will help you create and carry out a plan, so that you can arrive at the future that you’ve envisioned for yourself. 

In this article, Tony Groulx, writer at Mammoth! Brand Studio, shares his perspectives on How to Think Long Term.

Key Takeaways

  • Thinking long term is the same thing as planning for the future. 
  • Treat your relationships as though you are bound to the person beside you for life.
  • Write so that what you say has a chance of abiding in the hearts and minds of people for years. 
  • Embrace the long road and do 100% of your work.
  • Choose a career that will help you grow your personality, craft, and communication skills. 
  • Everything that you do and fail to do has a consequence. 

Long Term Thinking In Your Personal Life

Thinking long term is the same thing as planning for the future. In our personal lives, we can plan for a good future by foregoing instant gratification, making appropriate sacrifices, and discerning the importance of our far-off goals. 

We don't want cheap things or cheap pleasures. We know that we can't have everything. And working toward our most distant goal will transform our lives into a meaningful adventure.

In my personal life, I tend to apply long term thinking most in my relationships with others, and I also tend to think long term about much of the writing that I generate. 

Long Term Thinking In Relationships

I interact in my relationships— with my girlfriend, for instance—as though I am bound to the person beside me for life. It might not end up that way because who knows what will happen. A lot is out of our control. 

But by treating a relationship as though it will go on forever, on the off chance that a well-thought-out plan for the future might actually bring about a future that I want to inhabit, I am setting myself up to have the best possible relationship that I could have a week from now, a month from now, and even a year from now, as well as today.

Long Term Thinking in Writing

If you write something very quickly that's either bad or unoriginal, it will be forgotten very quickly. This is especially true with regard to writing for the internet. Do you want your writing to be timely, or do you want it to be timeless? 

Your writing might be good enough for today, but that does not guarantee that it will be good enough one year from now. Will what you write hit the mark today, but be forgotten in a week? Or will truth still ring through your words one year in the future? 

If you take time to read broadly and learn how to write well, spending years honing your craft, what you say could abide in the hearts and minds of people for years. 

Long Term Thinking In Professional Life

In professional life, a long term thinker is someone who doesn't cut corners, who does 100% of the work they're assigned, and who ultimately has chosen their position to grow in their craft, develop as a communicator, and expand their personality.

In all things long term, the question is not “will this benefit me today?” The question is, rather, “will this benefit me a week from now, a month from now, and a year from now, as well as today?”

If you cut corners in your professional life and fail to consider the future’s potential:

  • You won’t be considered for promotions. 
  • Your character and work-ethic will suffer. 
  • Others will consider your work to be insufficient and sloppy. 

Embrace the Long Road

Everything that we do has a consequence. Do you want to be a person who is consistently working against themselves? Thinking long term means that we look toward the future and attempt to see how what we're doing now, and what we’re failing to do now, will play itself out across time. 

I may save time by cutting a corner today, but a month from now, it could negatively affect my reputation as a writer. By cutting a corner, I will generate less than satisfactory work in order to save myself time and energy, but by not allowing the work to reach its full fruition, I’m stealing from my future self. 

Moreover, by generating work that I know to be lacking, I am creating an expectation for myself that could transform into a habit. This could then affect my character, as we are what we repeatedly do (or fail to do). 

Are we moving nearer to the future we want to inhabit, or are our actions pushing it away? Long term thinking asks us to make a plan, and then to aim single-mindedly at the goal that our plan will ultimately guide us to.

Compound Effect

Both cutting corners and doing 100% of the work will compound over time. Maybe it isn’t just one day that you didn’t finish the work that you committed to, but instead it’s five days in a row, or every day for a month. For every day that you fail to complete your work, you’re robbing your future self from the quantity and quality of work you could have generated. 

In practice, this either means that deadlines are pushed back indefinitely, or that work which you know does not meet your standards ends up being passed off as “completed.” In a worst-case-scenario, this could lead to the termination of your employment.

On the other hand, if you finish the work that you committed to at the beginning of each day, you won’t have to consider it tomorrow. For every day that you complete your work, you’re rewarding your future self with the quality and quantity of work that you know you’re capable of generating. 

Not only that, but by completing your tasks, you’re freeing up time in the future to work on other projects. In practice, this means that you’ll meet every deadline on time, and that you’ll arrive there with work that you truly believe to be your best. 

People will take note of both compounding effects. It’s up to you to determine which one you’d like to live.

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