Long-term thinking is crucial to achieving success in various aspects of life, including personal growth, financial stability, and career development. However, adopting a long-term mindset can be challenging. In this blog post, I’ll explore 10 strategies to help you develop long-term thinking and make it work for you.
“No great thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.” – Epictetus
Although we know that long-term thinking is important, it’s so hard to internalize and use it. It’s common to chase instant gratification. We all want results fast.
With the right mindset, you can make long-term thinking work for you. Here are 10 tips to develop long-term thinking and make it work for you.
🎯 1. Clarify your long-term vision
First, define your vision. Without vision or direction, you don’t know where you are going. You need to pick a direction to move forward.
Do you want to become an entrepreneur, get fit, or become an artist?
Write it down or create a vision board. You can create a digital or analog vision collage using various images that inspire you from the web or magazines. This process will help you clarify your vision.
🔨 2. Deconstruct your long-term vision into small steps
Once you’ve got a vision, work backwards.
✅ Deconstruct your long-term vision into small milestones and write them down.
✅ Assign a rough time frame to each milestone.
✅ Break down each milestone into even smaller steps. The more concrete and clear each step is, the easier it is for you to take.
📈 3. Consistently take the necessary steps for your long-term vision
Incorporating daily rituals can make the process of consistently taking small steps towards your vision much more manageable. Establishing these rituals ensures that even on days when motivation wanes, you’re still oriented towards your goals.
Imagine each day as a fresh, empty vase named “today.” You fill it with a rock and pebbles. The rock represents the action step necessary for your long-term vision, and the pebbles represent the “urgent” matters that life throws at you.
If you let the “urgent” matters take precedence, your vase will be filled with pebbles, leaving no room for the rock. This is where your ritual becomes critical. Make it a habit to place your “rock,” the step towards your long-term vision, in the vase first. This ensures that even amidst life’s unexpected urgencies, you’re consistently making progress on your larger goals.
This concept aligns with the financial practice of paying yourself first. Rather than saving what’s left over after spending, you prioritize contributing to your savings or investments. Likewise, by establishing consistent rituals, you’re investing in your long-term personal and career development first and foremost.
⏰ 4. Start “Now” for your long-term vision
When is the best time to start working toward your long-term vision?
The best time is “Now” when it’s not needed.
You might not feel like working on your vision now as it isn’t an urgent need. But that’s the point. You don’t want to wait until you are desperate to start working on it. If you wait until that moment, you will have fewer options and less time to experiment. It takes time to build anything big.
🏃♀️ 5. Practice and make a lot of mistakes
To become good at anything, you need a lot of practice.
Find opportunities to practice what you want to be good at. You can seek a job or project that gives you opportunities to practice.
When you are practicing, choose challenging and scary options to stretch you beyond your comfort zone. Be okay with making mistakes. Making mistakes is the fastest way to learn. You almost want to make it your goal to make a lot of mistakes rather than getting it “right” every time.
🌱 6. Have realistic expectations for progress toward your long-term vision
If you don’t see immediate progress, you might give up. You might think you aren’t cut out for it or you don’t have what it takes.
Therefore, it’s crucial to have realistic expectations. Having unrealistic expectations will put your emotions on a roller-coaster ride.
Everybody has to start somewhere. When you start something new, of course you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s part of the thrill.
🧘♂️ 7. Be mindful and take the Kaizen approach
It’s important to take small steps and practice consistently with realistic expectations. As you practice, you want to make small, steady improvements.
You need a Kaizen Mindset. Kaizen is a Japanese word. Kai (改）means change and Zen（善）means good. You make incremental changes for the better – one small step at a time.
With each practice session, you get feedback internally and externally. Be really mindful and pay attention. Adjust your practice based on the feedback for the next attempt. It might look like you aren’t making any progress on the surface. But know that you are making progress behind the scenes.
🔄 8. Use both Efficiency and Wandering
In the process of taking small steps toward your long-term vision, you need to employ both efficiency and wandering.
If you know exactly how to get from one milestone to the next one, go there straight and be efficient.
But you’ll probably find yourself at a fork in the road where the way forward is unclear. When you find yourself in that situation, wander around with your curiosity. Use your intuition and trust your gut. You might find a new path to take, or you might have to turn around and go back to the fork again. The path isn’t always going to be clear, but embrace the journey.
Remember when you find that you need to take a detour rather than the most efficient route, you may get frustrated and think it’s a waste of time. But when you take a detour, you often discover unexpected things in unexpected places.
🌳 9. Plant a lot of seeds, nourish them, and be patient
When you are wandering, plant a lot of seeds. It is hard to tell which seeds will bring you the fruits or flowers you want. There will be a lot of seeds that don’t germinate. Planting a lot of seeds will only increase the chance that you will have a tree that actually bears fruit.
If you are curious, try it out and experiment. Don’t say, “This won’t work” before you even give it a try.
💥 10. Harness the Power of Exponential Growth
When you take small steps and practice kaizen consistently toward your long-term vision, you initiate a pattern of exponential growth.
Just as compound interest accrues faster over time, your personal or career development will see gains that don’t merely increase at a constant rate, but multiply, leading to a steep upward curve in your growth journey.
🚀 Take Action Now
Long-term thinking is essential for personal and professional growth. By following these tips and staying committed to your vision, you’ll develop the mindset needed to succeed in the long run. Remember to be patient, practice consistently, and embrace the journey. Your future self will thank you for it.
What’s your long-term vision? Take your first steps to get started on building your future with a long-term mindset!