TT #007: Short Game Is Greater Than The long Term

Is playing the long game better than short term thinking?

We live in a world were we crave instant gratification.

Sharing our lives on social media, wanting to see how many likes and comments we get. Buying ready meals or nipping into fast food joints for ease and speed. We aren’t even satisfied with our home broadband speed, always wanting faster.

Many thought leaders say you need to think long term, play the long game.

That you should be building for the future, whether that’s saving money or growing a business.

You buy a house, get a mortgage because you plan to stay there “for a while”. Take out long term loans to buy the car you want to “drive into the ground”. We hunt online for the best credit card deals that offer zero percent interest for at least two years.

Tony Robbins says “Most people overestimate what they’re going to do in a year, and they underestimate what they can do in a decade”

But is that correct, are we thinking about it all wrong?

Why can’t we play the short game and try and get results fast. I’m not saying taking a short cut, but short timescales, the long haul never has an end date. If you started training for a marathon, but never entered a race, would you ever run 26 miles?

You would never achieve anything if it’s always “someday”.

I’m not saying it’s easy, it is difficult and involves hard work and experimenting.

This is where S.M.A.R.T goals come in, the ‘T’ standing for timeboxed. Many of the same people who preach long term thinking also talk about timeboxing their goals. Yes it’s about breaking it down into smaller, achievable chunks, the principle is the same.

I’ve wanted to quit my job and work for myself for years.

Always saying “one day”, I know the amount I need each month, why am I still working then?

I’ve put a hell of a lot of pressure on myself in the past to achieve this goal and it has caused me a lot of stress. The frustration of not getting anywhere is horrible and it causes you to beat yourself up. Over the last 12–18 months I’ve tried taking the pressure off myself and not be as “desperate” to achieve this.

A lot of people said to take the pressure off, to think long term.

That’s all well and good but you still don’t achieve your goals.

I still think you shouldn’t put pressure on yourself but also why not bring the goal to the very short term? Instead of someday what about, I going to do it in 6 weeks? It’s easier to commit to something for 6–12 weeks than waiting 12 months.

I’ve waited 12 months and when you haven’t gotten as far as you like you feel like shit, a ‘failure’.

You’re not a failure, it’s your rate of failure is to slow.

Imagine if you failed at the same thing, but instead of 12 months, it took 6 weeks to get the learning from the failure. In 3 or 4 months you would have learned so much and be a lot closer to achieving what you set out to do.

So, how I am thinking about playing the short game?

For me, I’m going to be trying a lot of different things, thing I put off as “I’m playing the long game”.

Yes, something may not be sustainable, but if I get a 100 customers subscribed to my software product. That would mean I’ve hit a goal, an ambition that I’ve had for years. Wouldn’t the short term effort be worth it and it would also help with the long term?

The biggest challenge with this is putting the work in.

You will need commit and put hard work in, but only for a short space of time.

Like I said trying something for 12 months only to see it fail is far worse than 6 weeks of nose to the grindstone. Trust me I’ve done both, I’ve even been nose to the grindstone for 12 months+. It’s not nice to come away and feel like it’s all for nothing.

So for the next few months I’m going to be trying to see if short term experiments take me closer to my goal.

I will keep you posted.

Please let me know you thoughts on playing the short game vs long term thinking.

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Phillip Hughes

Tech entrepreneur and side hustler. Founder of elementaryanalytics.com and baitcamp.net. Loves fishing. Plays guitar. Enjoys exercise.