I’ve been a fan in the past of both long and short-term goals.
One side of my thinking was that focusing too much on long-term goals would make things seem too far off. It could hamper motivation because it would seem too overwhelming to work toward something that is so far off in the future.
And I thought little rewards were a good thing. You put a little carrot in front of you and work toward it and achieve it.
I’m still not entirely sold on the idea of moving away from that thinking, but I’m getting closer. Now I’m wondering if those long-term goals are always the better way to go.
The Downfall of Short-term Goals
Maybe it’s just a balance thing. Working both with short-term and long-term goals that is the key. But I think the tendency with short-term goals is to lean on decisions that ultimately end up not working out.
I see it in business all the time.
For example, at Ghost Blog Writers we have an ideal customer. One that fully buys into the product we sell, which is regular blogging.
In the past, we’ve worked on shorter term blogging projects. Maybe a batch of a few posts vs. a regular schedule.
My thinking was that we could win the client over and convert them into a long-term, ongoing schedule. And I have to admit that part of me also liked the idea of the sales or the money in the short-term.
Those situations have almost always come back to bite me. Part of the intention was good, but in hindsight it’s easy to see that the majority of the intent was not good. It didn’t have a long-term focus.
That’s just one example. There are a million in business that are similar.
Hiring someone because you need a body in the building now to handle things.
Buying the first software off the rack because you need something right away.
Going outside of a business process in order to make something happen faster.
Back to long-term goals.
Now I’m starting to get back to thinking about the long-term goals of my business and life. I’m thinking five, 10 and even 50+ years in the future.
The thing with long-term goals is that they seem to lead to better decision making. Even if I get an issue that comes across my desk I think about it in terms of the long-term goal and it helps me make a decision.
A new writer applies with us. I think, “How will they help the business in 10 years? How can we help them for the next ten years?”
Obviously this way of thinking can lead to a lot of frustration. But it provides clarity and can definitely lead to fewer headaches in the future. Not all headaches can be avoided, but I’m starting to find that you can avoid quite a few if you focus on long-term goals as a way to make decisions.
Now I’m even thinking of my personal life in terms of long-term goals.
Being a good golfer.
Being a good hunter.
Being a good husband and father.
When I’m presented with a challenge or problem now I’m trying to think about how the decision I make will help me well into the future.
A change in my golf swing? I’ll think, “How will this help me when I’m playing in ten years?”
A change in my hunting approach? “How will this help me in 20 years when I’m in the woods?”
A purchasing decision in the household? “How will this help my family in 30 years?”
It’s weird to think that way. I think I’m starting to realize that I was thinking way too much in the short-term. The idea of short-term rewards seemed good, but it’s easy to fall way too far into short-term thinking.
Final Thought: Patience
Maybe the key takeaway here is patience.
A lack fo patience seems to lead to all kinds of unhappiness. It can lead to unreasonable expectations. It can lead to disappointment. It can lead to poor relationships.
Whether it’s business or personal life…it seems to pay to focus only on long-term goals.