Long-term thinking is one of the most important criteria when it comes to achieving remarkable success in business and life. Take a look at all the extraordinary people like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, you will see that they have long-term visions and they think far into the future.
Elon Musk sees the possibility of traveling to Mars and living on Mars even when space travel is still an extremely new idea. While it is true that humans have set foot on Moon, but to travel to Mars and live there? Well, it is still an idea that sounds “out of the mind”.
However, Musk did not look at it as something impossible. He took the challenge and made it his mission for interstellar travel. He wants to live in Mars, and if possible, die there.
Watch this YouTube video below where Musk said that he prefers to die on Mars, but not on impact.
Another great person who showed that long-term thinking is important is none other than Jeff Bezos.
Being the founder and the CEO of Amazon, Bezos is no doubt one of the extraordinaire with long-term thinking.
Besides Amazon, Bezos involved in one of his side projects where he is building a 10,000-year clock using $42 million of his own money. I suggest you read this article from American Express about how Bezos cultivate his ability to think long-term.
When people asked Bezos why he wanted to focus 10,000 years into the future, he said in a letter to Amazon shareholders in 1997 according to American Express:
“We (Bezos and Amazon shareholders) can’t realize our potential as people or as companies unless we plan for the long term.
Every subsequent year, Bezos has ended shareholder letters by attaching the original 1997 essay with a reminder of the importance of thinking long term. And every year, he is proven right.”
“If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people,” Bezos told Wired in 2011.
Therefore, foster your long-term thinking if you want to be successful like Bezos, Musk, and others.
When you think far into the future and create a plan to get there, what you do each day may not seem to produce significant results, but surely, you are moving slowly to the future that you want.
If you want to have a vacation, you must first identify the location and where you want to go. Knowing where to go is just like finding your long-term vision. Without knowing where to go, you can’t prepare what you need to do now to get there.
This is why long-term thinking is extremely important and you must make it a part of your plan for success.
So how do you think long-term? Well, here are 7 suggestions and tips you may want to consider:
1. Focus on building your characters
First, in order to think long-term, you must focus on building your characters. You must build success habits, cultivate the growth mindset, and think far into the future.
For instance, if you are in business, making a profit is one thing, but you must not ignore improving yourself and your business.
This is because things consistently change. What worked years ago may not work right now. Take the typewriter profession right now, decades ago, being a typewriter may be a good job, but the invention of personal computers have made this profession obsolete.
In the world of internet marketing, writing articles and submitting them to directories used to be a good method to grow your online business, but today, this method just doesn’t work anymore.
You have to understand that not just that things will change, but the competition will also grow and if you are not innovating and improving yourself and your business, soon enough, you will be out of the game.
This is why you should focus on building your characters.
Do you now know why highly successful people read books and commit to constant learning right now?
Warren Buffett, one of the most successful investors once said:
“Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
Here are some points from HuffingtonPost:
- Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year, which breaks down to 1 per week
- Mark Cuban reads more than 3 hours every day
- Elon Musk is an avid reader and when asked how he learned to build rockets, he said, “I read books.”
- Mark Zuckerberg resolved to read a book every 2 weeks throughout 2015
- Oprah Winfrey selects one of her favorite books every month for her Book Club members to read and discuss
2. Consciously practice long-term thinking
The next thing you can do to think long-term is to make conscious effort to think long-term.
So how do you do it? Well, just spend the time to think far into the future; 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, or even longer.
According to a Wired profile, Jeff Bezos said that he purposefully schedules 2 unstructured days a week on his calendar so that he could free his mind and come up with new, innovative ideas. He said that sometimes he will just surf the web and other times he set up his own meetings.
You can be like Bezos, free up your time to do something that comes to your mind or to brainstorm new ideas for the future.
This is why we often hear personal development gurus tell us to constantly review our goals.
Every week or every day, spend some time to visualize and to think about your future. Somehow, we become who we think about most of the time. So spend time to purposefully think long-term.
This is important because you want to make long-term thinking part of your daily habit. When your way of thinking changed, so will your action, and hence, the results you get and ultimately, your life.
Remember, whatever gets scheduled, gets done.
Thus, schedule free time to cultivate your long-term thinking. Purposefully spend time to wander into the future that you want.
See yourself far into the future, what you want to be, do and have. And eventually, you will be living the future that you desire, now.
3. Take your constraint out of the game
When it comes to thinking long-term, most people find it challenging to think far into the future because they are limited by certain things in their life.
- Worry, fear, and other limiting beliefs
Imagine if you want to build a vision of your future but if you are limited by your financial constraints, it is difficult to come up with a long-term thinking that is truly what you want.
Let me give you an example. Try to think about your life 5 years into the future. For most people, they will start to imagine all the great things they are going to accomplish such as owning a bigger home, driving a new luxury car, traveling to Hawaii or building a multi-million-dollar business.
The problem comes when they start to consider their current situation, especially money.
At first, they dream about driving their dream car, but then suddenly, they notice that they are deeply in credit card debt. And then start to think low and becomes inferior.
In other words, they are affected and limited by their current situations such as money, a language that they don’t know how to speak, or other limiting beliefs such as worries and fears.
Think about it, don’t that everyone wants to be successful? But why are most people not successful? They are limiting by the constraints. They stop themselves from thinking about the exciting future and then their actions follow suit.
So don’t let your limiting beliefs stop you.
If you want to build a successful blog but English is not your main language, does that stop you from living that dream?
Therefore, get rid of all the limiting beliefs and think from a point where you are totally free from any constraint and that you have the capability to achieve everything that you want in the future.
This way, you are truly thinking long-term and making your dream exciting.
So, if you want to think long-term, remove the roadblocks in your thinking first.
4. Figuring out exactly what you want to achieve in the future
Finding out what you want to achieve in your life is one of the best ways to cultivate the habit of thinking long-term.
The problem is that most people don’t know what they want out of their life. I recommend you read this article that I published some time ago:
When you know what you want to do with your life, you have clarity, and clarity is power.
In the book, The One Thing, written by Gary Keller, he said that to be productive, you must find out your purpose in life. In other words, you must understand what kind of life you want before you can be productive.
This is because when you have a clear purpose, then you can arrange your priority around that purpose. And with priority, you can then work on it and be productive.
There is no way you can be productive if you don’t know your purpose in life.
Set goals, create your vision boards, and visualize the kind of life that you want. When you find out what you want to achieve in the future, only then you are able to come up with a plan and work on it each day to get there.
Without a clear purpose and clarity of what you want, how can you know what you do today is productive or able to get you the results that you want?
Hence, figure out what you want to achieve in your life, my friend.
5. Divorce yourself from the surrounding
I once published an article about a secret that is responsible for Warren Buffett’s success. You can read the full article here.
Basically, the secret is that Buffett knows how to divorce himself from his surroundings. In the article, I wrote:
“Besides his skill in finding undervalued companies, another thing that makes him one of the greatest investors in the world is his ability to hold on to the stocks even when the market fluctuates. Buffett seems to be able to ignore the market performance and divorce himself from all the noises around him while holding on to his stocks and his decisions.
This requires a lot of determination and emotional reserve. You see, most people are emotionally affected when the prices of stocks in the market fluctuates. People will tell you to sell or to buy, which eventually will make you become irrational and fearful.
You will become even more emotionally affected when it involves a large sum of money. Imagine you have invested a huge portion of your life savings into the market and suddenly, the price is fluctuating and goes down. People around you keep telling to sell and put the money into another company instead. What will you do?”
You see, most people are affected by their surroundings. People who think long-term will not be affected by their surroundings.
When you have decided to start an e-commerce website and to make it big, that’s it. It has been decided. You commit to it, work on it until you get the results you want.
Unfortunately, most people will be affected by what others tell them. They let people talk them out of their dreams and goals.
Highly successful people, on the other hand, understand what they want, and they keep to it. When people tell them that their dreams are impossible, they just ignore and prove them wrong.
Look at Elon Musk. Many people say that his dreams are impossible and even say bad things about his venture, but did he stop and give up? No, not at all.
This is the kind of thinking and mindset you must have.
So learn to divorce yourself from your surroundings. When you have decided to go for your dream life, that’s it, it is a done deal, no questions asked, and you should just go for it and never be affected by others.
6. Understand that every huge success takes time
My friend, you have to understand that success requires time, especially the huge ones.
Have you heard about the bamboo story?
When you plant a bamboo tree, you will notice that in the first few years, the bamboo trees will not grow one bit. Even if you water it daily and make sure that it has enough sunlight and the soil is fertile and suitable.
However, on the fifth year, something amazing will happen. The bamboo trees will grow 80 feet tall within a short 6 weeks.
The moral of the story is that during the first few years, the bamboo trees are growing, not upward, but downward. They sprout their root deep into the ground because they want to grow sky-high.
The same principle can apply to your life and whatever you want to accomplish. You have to learn to grow and build a strong foundation like the bamboo did.
Learn to walk before you run. And success takes time, my friend.
It is not going to be an overnight success. Hence, you must always be ready and be willing to put in the daily effort to grow your foundation.
When the times come, you will then grow your business exponentially and reach sky-high, like the bamboo.
This is why you want to think long-term, right? Things are not going to happen instantaneously, so have patience and work for it.
7. Evaluate the actions you take daily
Another good suggestion that helps foster you to think long-term is to evaluate what you do daily.
Ask yourself, what do you do daily? Are you doing the important or are you doing the urgent matters?
Most of the time, things that are urgent are not helping much in your long-term success. On the other hand, important matters are usually helpful to your long-term success, but they are not urgent.
For example, picking up a call may be urgent, but the call may not be important. Cleaning up your house because it is in a mess is urgent, but it is not that important.
And when it comes to internet marketing, setting a lead generating system, promoting your products, services, or websites, and creating new products are important, but they are not really that urgent.
On the contrary, matters that are urgent are like replying emails, creating a beautiful website design or logo, reading related articles and learn new marketing techniques.
In short, things that are urgent usually do not contribute much to your future success. They are just things that you need to settle right away.
Things that are important usually contributes to your goals, but they are not really that urgent and you can put them off for now.
So evaluate your daily actions. You can use the Eisenhower Box method to manage your urgent vs important tasks.
The key is to identify the important work that will get you the results you want in the long-term.
If you only focus and getting yourself busy working on what is urgent but are not contributing to your future success, you only treading water and are not going forward.
Hence, identify the important matters that truly contribute to your long-term success. And then schedule and work on them.
People who think long-term are working on important tasks that get them the most result. They don’t waste time on urgent but not important things like sending their clothes to the laundry or call to arrange an appointment with the dentist, right?
They spend their most productive hours doing the most important work because the rest can wait.
Thinking long-term is important, but don’t overdo it though. Some people are so obsessed with their long-term thinking and they never take any conscious effort.
In my opinion, both long-term and short-term thinking are important.
You need both to excel and remarkable success in life.
Merely thinking about the long-term future may not work because you may lose traction on what you need to do right now.
You need to think long-term to stay on course, and at the same time, you also need to think short-term so that you know what to do to get there.
So how do you practice long-term thinking? Share your ideas in the comment section below. Cheers.