THINK LONG TERM
By Brian Tracy
Sociologist Dr. Edward Banfield of Harvard University conducted a fifty-year study into the reasons for upward socioeconomic mobility in America. He concluded that the most important single attribute of people who achieved great success in life was “long time perspective.” Banfield defined “time perspective” as “the amount of time an individual takes into consideration when determining his present actions.”
In other words, the most successful people are long-term thinkers. They look into the future as far as they can to determine the kind of people they want to become and the goals they want to achieve. They then come back to the present and determine the things that they will have to do—or not do—to achieve their desired futures.
This practice of long-term thinking applies to work, career, marriage, relationships, money, and personal conduct. Successful people make sure that everything they do in the short term is consistent with where they want to end up in the long term. They practice self-discipline at all times.
Perhaps the most important word in long-term thinking is sacrifice. Superior people have the ability to throughout their lives make sacrifices in the short term, both large and small, so as to assure greater results and rewards in the long term.
You see this willingness to sacrifice in people who spend many hours and even years preparing, studying, and upgrading their skills to make themselves more valuable so that they can have a better life in the future, rather than spending most of their time socializing and having fun in the present.
Longfellow once wrote:
“Those heights by great men, won and kept,
Were not achieved by sudden flight.
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.”
Your ability to think, plan, and work hard in the short-term and to discipline yourself to do what is right and necessary before you do what is fun and easy is the key to creating a wonderful future for yourself.
Your ability to think long-term is a developed skill. As you get better at it, you become more able to predict with increasing accuracy what is likely to happen to you in the future as the result of your actions in the present. This is a quality of the superior thinker.
Culled from No Excuses! – The Power of Self-discipline.
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