Don’t Be Short Sighted

One thing I know for sure is that life is a marathon not a sprint.

Being short sighted is a common problem (if I may call it that). Shortsightedness may get you further ahead and may allow you to have more fun, in the short term – but over the long haul it’s rarely ever worth it.

Think about planting a garden. When you start with a blank slate and a desire to have a beautiful garden it can be really exciting. Staring at an empty plot of land it’s understandable that you would want your garden to be lush and thick and full of beautiful flowers, textured plants and a variety of trees. To get that today you need a ton of plants, flowers, and shrubs planted close together.

In the long run however, your garden will be be too dense. Trees may start taking over casting too much shade for other plants and flowers to survive. After 5 years the plants may be too close to the house with the roots damaging the foundation, limbs may fall on the roof etc …

Being short sighted gave you great results in the first year or two but in the long run it proved to be a waste of time, money and energy.

When it comes to our kids, our jobs, or planning for retirement (just some examples), it really does pay to think in terms of the long run.

Being too focused on the day to day activities and simply getting through our tasks in order to appease people, leaves little time to look at the big picture, the long term plan.

Long term thinking allows us to be innovative, create change, and drive purposefully towards what we want our life to look like.

Your Assignment:

1. Take 15 minutes each day to think about the long-term impact of some decisions you’ve made recently (preferably every day this month, but at the very least when you think of  it). Assess whether or not the decisions you’ve made have endurance or do they really just benefit you in the short term.

2. After a few days of doing this exercise assess whether your decisions are still mostly short term or are they becoming more long term.

The thing to remember is making decisions for the long term is not always easy and is not always fun. It may be a lot more fun now to spend every penny you earn on phones, gadgets, homes and cars but doing this in excess will set you up for failure in the long run. You may not be able to retire early or at all, and if you’re really short sighted you may not have given this possibility any thought.

If you find that some decisions you’ve made will not be sustainable in the long run, reconsider. There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind or renegotiating.

Don’t let your short shortsightedness be your demise. There is another option.

Do you fall into this trap of thinking in the short term? How will you work at shifting to long term thinking? Or is it even a problem?

18 Responses to “Don’t Be Short Sighted”

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  1. Wendy Irene says:

    I was just working on the finances today and I really appreciate reading “It may be a lot more fun now to spend every penny you earn on phones, gadgets, homes and cars but doing this in excess will set you up for failure in the long run.”
    That sentence helps keep me motivated! Thank you. Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. I think it helps to have a compelling vision for what you want in the long term, because sometimes in the moment the long term is just too vague and unglamorous for me to care about it more than what I’m after in the short term. :-)

    With your example of spending, I would take the step of really thinking about (and discussing with my husband) what we want our retirement to look like so that deciding against that latte or iPad or trip to Italy would be made for reasons that seem very clear to me. Then making decisions with the long term in mind might feel less like depriving myself of what I want and more like helping me get what I really want.

    With our kids we know we want to help them become (among other things) resourceful, resilient people with a reasonable work ethic, so it’s easier to make decisions (such as disciplining them, saying no, etc.) that in the short term feel less fun but in the long term are absolutely the right decisions.

    I think everyone in the US could really benefit from more long-term thinking! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  3. Michael says:

    Great article. I’ve been focusing on this aspect lately and your take is a great perspective on this.

  4. K says:

    I think there should be a healthy dose of both long and short term mentality. Like you said, long term thinking helps to make sure we are actually accomplishing something worthwhile in the long run. But long term goals are often accompanied by discouragement (takes too long to see results), lack of faith (there’s no way I can actually accomplish something big) and plain impatience.

    Being able to afford something small right now, like gadgets that you mentioned, may be a bad purchase in the long run but in the short term it may boost someone’s self esteem — ‘Wow, I can afford to buy ____!’ And building self esteem will then in the long run produce a healthier identity.

    I don’t really disagree with what you said, long term thinking is HUUUGE! But at the same time I want to state that short term thinking is just as important. Both have their pro’s and con’s, and both are required for a well-rounded, effective living.

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