Number 4 – Benefits of Short-Term Thinking
I’m a long-term thinker. A planner. A dreamer. An idealist. I look at how things are and a look ahead to how things should be. I dream of an idealised future, passionately believing and advocating for it. This also means that I’m ambitious, driven and motivated.
A lot of the time these are useful skills and a mindset that others often envy. I have been told many times by friends who are struggling for direct, how much they envy my clarity of purpose and my drive. I too have generally viewed this way of thinking as being a positive thing.
During the last few months, however, it has proven to be the worst possible way of thinking! You can have all the hopes, dreams and ambitions you want but in the face of a global pandemic and a consequent economic crisis, those things become pretty difficult to even begin to imagine. Where before, the idealised view of the future was a personal call to action, now it has become a meaningless fantasy – a daydream. The ability to dream of an idealised world leads to despair at how far from that we are and how impossible it feels to get there.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have discovered the joy and freedom of short-term thinking. Instead of worrying about the big-picture and how everything will end, just see the opportunities in front of you and take things one step at a time. Forget the end destination, focus instead on each step of the journey. After all, in our careers and our lives in general, we spend far more time on the journey than we do at the final destination. And, just like a car journey, we don’t necessarily know if we’ll like the destination when we get there! So, there’s no point getting too fixated on where we want to go. Equally, if we’re so obsessed with reaching one destination, we might miss the diversion that takes us to somewhere we never intended to go but which we fall in love with, nonetheless.
So, for all those dreamers and idealists out there. I invite you to forget the big-picture for a little while. Instead, take a moment to appreciate what you have around you – the people, the places and the things that give your life meaning right now. Focus on the little opportunities that arise and do what you can now, rather than making plans for doing it in the future. There’s never a perfect time, there’s never a perfect plan, and it’s very often the things that we don’t plan that we are most grateful for. Open yourself up to the happy accidents and hidden opportunities. You may well find the answer was right in front of you all along.