Short Termism – The new plague
I wrote about this topic a while back (http://wp.me/p4guGT-m) . However, after being a full time entrepreneur for these last 2 weeks, I have come to realise how much this way of thinking is conditioned into us. It is almost like a disease that is really hard to cure, unless we do something about it.
I always have considered myself to have a long term vision. However, I had never been (until now), in a position where I have “risked it all” to follow my dreams. I no longer have that security blanket in a form of a job to fall back on, nor do I have huge amounts of wealth (yet!) to see me through. Some may say I have gone completely insane whilst others will realise there was really no other option for me.
So, if I know this to be the case, why have there been moments in the last two weeks where all I could feel was a tight stomach, emptiness, and right down fear and yes, even doubt?
The answer: short term thinking is engrained into us since young age.
When we are at school we are taught to study hard to get good grades. The emphasis is usually in results rather than learning.
When at work we are taught to get quick results. Your boss wants results now, for yesterday, not for tomorrow. Things need to be done quickly and correctly. We think about profit, turnover and now money especially if the organisation has shareholders. Results, rather than how.
Within society we get sold everything that makes us feel good now. “Lose weight in 15 days”, “Buy now pay later”, temptation of cake vendors outside gyms or dentists, “Low down payment”, one night stands, upsize for just 10p and many more.
Instant gratification is the name of the game. We are not used to taking steps with faith that something will work out or sticking to habits although we know they will be good for us in the long term. We want results NOW! We are not willing to take little baby steps that will eventually compound into something greater. If we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.
However, by doing this we miss out on so much more. What do real leaders and visionaries have? Long term vision, passion and the pure belief that if they keep going they will get there. Success isn’t a straight line. It isn’t even a destination. Success is working day in and day out on following your vision, whether personal or professional, and enduring the hard times, challenges, the uncomfortable feeling of being outside your comfort zone, and taking one step at a time to getting there, but always going forward.
So what can we do to help ourselves as individuals or organisations to keep their vision alive? Here are some tips that have helped me throughout these two weeks:
- Find out why this vision is important to you. Work on your why. My last LinkedIn post talked about purpose, have a look if you need further help on this. (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/whats-your-purpose-cinthya-quijano)
- Vision Boards. Yes, even for organisations! A great way for an organisation to do this would be through Appreciative Inquiry or a Whole System in the room intervention. Then put the board somewhere all employees can see it. Believe me, it is a powerful tool.
- Affirmations. A lot has been written about affirmations or setting your intention. Saying it out loud and with feeling really helps me start my day right, and if it is powerful at an individual level, imagine what it could do for collectives!!!
- Setting yourself (and your team) goals. Nice, simple ones, that are achievable. I’m not going to write about goal setting, we all know why it’s important. However, sometimes we don’t make it easy on ourselves. Having stretch goals are great, but sometimes you just need an easy win to help you get started. So when you are feeling down, pick one easy thing you can get done, and celebrate the success like a crazy person. Your brain doesn’t understand the difference between a small or big success. So just go nuts!
- Celebrate success. If within an organisational setting, be inclusive and celebrate big and small successes. I’ve already explained why… neuroscience at its best!
- Read! Not just novels or free newspapers, but books on developing yourself and your vision. If you are really have an ambitious vision, know that you are going to have to keep learning about the subject matter and about yourself too.
- Most of all to keep your long term vision alive find people who believe your vision as much as you do. Use them as the group you go to when you need a bit of help, or feel like your sliding into “instant gratification” mode. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and your vision is vital.