With the continual uncertainty of lockdown and the start- stop nature of 2021 to date, many people have resorted to “short term thinking” where they are thinking only about what they have got to do today or this month to get through. You may find that this happens to you in waves.
The danger with uncertainty is that, as business leaders, we risk adopting a “survival mindset” which focuses on fixing problems and implementing solutions for today which in turn reduces our horizon and limits long term sustainability.
The nature of the human mind is that it is predominantly focused on survival where it’s fundamental activity is to protect our basic human needs at all costs and if we are not conscious of this, we can easily fall into the short term thinking trap.
When our lives are plagued with impending short term problems, it takes a lot of effort to be “Future Focused” and create “Long Term Thinking” .
The way we think directly determines what we focus on in our current reality and the actions that we take.
To ensure we continue to make progress in our lives and businesses and to avoid stagnating, we must always remember that next month, next year and next decade are coming and we must bring the future results we desire into our present thinking to correctly influence our present actions.
“Think long term, execute short term”
An easy way to identify how you are thinking is to look at how you are planning your day.
If you are in the short term thinking mindset, you may ask yourself, “What have I got to do today?”
With this mindset, you are at risk of implementing short term solutions and from experience, short term solutions always lead to long term problems as we generally take the easier, faster, cheaper route to get rid of a headache, rather than the correct, long term, sustainable route.
To instigate long term thinking which generates long term solutions, a better way to start your day is to ask yourself the following questions:
1. Where do I want to be in 5 years time?
2. What do I need to do to get myself and my business closer to that?
3. What do I need to change?
4. How can I fix this problem forever?
5. Then and only Then…. ask yourself… What do I need to do today?
By giving your mind a long term thinking framework from which to operate within, you broaden your horizon, raise your thinking and free yourself from the trap of focusing on the short term problems.
It is a common trait of successful business leaders that they spend at least 15 minutes planning their day so that they become more intentional with their actions and consciously create long term success.
“For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today” – African Proverb
A good exercise to do is to look at what you have on your list today and value each of the tasks from $10 to $1million
If you have lots of low value items on your to do list, it is a sign that your horizon is shrinking.
Challenge yourself to take on the more difficult, important but not urgent tasks that set growth into motion and deliver long term results.
If the items on your list are hard, then you are in the right zone – you are leading.
If they are easy, you are simply managing, keeping things going.
Delegate as much of your lower value tasks as possible
Focus on the high value, high return actions.