Newest movie release seconds away via on demand? Check. Piping hot pizza delivered in under 30? Done. Ability to remain tethered to friends, family, customers, and the latest celebrity gossip at all times? Yep. Sunday home delivery of anything I want (possibly by drone) thanks to my good Amazonian friends? Absolutely. All those amazing improvements have made life convenient and efficient. But what has it done to our thinking? If everything can be right now, how frequently do we take time to vision months and years ahead? This is an issue that I am daily confronted with in my professional life. Short term focus and thinking is starting to erode our dreams and cripple our morale. To stay focused on the big picture, I regularly remind myself of the following benefits of thinking long term:
1. Provides Perspective – taking the long view brings everything into focus. The unending emails, constant texts, overdue reports, spreadsheet updates, etc. all lose their “immediacy” in comparison with my overall goals and dreams. Our constantly connected culture makes us unnecessarily burdened and stressed. Routinely coming up for air and looking towards the horizon at where you or your organization are headed will help minimize overwhelming frustration.
2. Increases Innovation – being a slave to your phone, tablet, or other digital distraction keeps you looking down rather than up and ahead. What’s coming next? What could or should you be doing differently? Take time every day (yes – every day) to cut the cord and allow time for creative thinking about how you will get from where you are to where you want to be. You will be amazed at what 30-60 minutes of brainstorming will do for your productivity and future success.
3. Reduces Risk – most of us fear change and work hard to avoid it. We choose the path of least resistance because it is both easier and less frightening. Almost all of these fears are focused on the short term, and the impact change will have to us immediately. Looking at those same changes over 3, 10, or 25 year spans reduces the risk as you consider the growth and opportunities that will come through them.
You don’t have to be a visionary thinker to look into the future and forecast what lies ahead. All you need is some time and the courage to separate yourself from the magnetic pull of your information feeds. Take the long view and be prepared for what you see.