Some of the most profound and insightful moments of my life have come as a result of what I’m about to share about short term and long term thinking.

But, this isn’t about my insights. That would do you zero good.

Instead, I’m going to show you how YOU can create your own insights. How you can essentially solve your own challenges, answer your own questions and guide YOUR OWN life whenever you want.

How would you like to:

  • Know exactly what to do when you’re stuck?

  • Get direction on challenging business problems?

  • Pinpoint the specific blocks that hold you back?

  • Receive answers to your biggest questions?

  • Confidently know what your next step is?

After reading this, you’ll know exactly how to be your own guide in both your business and personal life.

Short Term and Long Term Thinking

What you’re going to learn doesn’t just work for a few people. This works for everyone who is open to the process and has a pen and paper.

Before we begin, let’s first review a foundational concept in the Inner Path.

The Progress Cycle

In order to live with balance and experience progress in the shortest time frame, you must learn to cycle between:

Long Term and Short Term Thinking

Long term thinking means looking into the future and clarifying your vision around what you want to be, feel or have. Short term thinking is being present in the here and now.

2 other ways to think about it are:

Awareness and Focus

Awareness means opening your mind to seeing the bigger picture, while focus means holding your attention on ONE thing.

Thinking and Doing

Thinking means planning, analyzing, scheming, strategizing, and making decisions; while doing is jumping into the actual work itself.

We want to make sure we are cycling between these dualities and not getting stuck in one extreme or the other. The goal is to create a rhythm. And, that rhythm changes depending on where we are in the cycle and what we want to achieve.

short term and long term thinking

If you look at life, you’ll see examples of cycles all around you. On a daily rhythm, we experience the cycle of day and night…high tide and low tide. On a monthly rhythm, we see the different phases of the moon. On an annual rhythm, we experience the different seasons (summer, fall, winter, and spring) of life. And, of course we all experience the ultimate cycle in life…birth and death.

One thing that we consistently hear from people who join the Inner Path is that their results don’t match their efforts or that they know where they want to be in the future but what they are during in the here-and-now isn’t getting them there.

This isn’t due to a lack of effort. Sometimes there is MONSTEROUS efforts that result in abandoning health goals or ignoring relationships in the short term in the hopes of long term gains. They have learned that the secret to consistent progress is:

Cycling Between Short Term and Long Term Thinking

As our awareness of short term and long term thinking grows, we feel less “out of sync” and more balanced in our pursuits.

What is Short Term and Long Term Thinking Used For?

In a simplified way, short term and long term thinking enable us to dive down into the here-and-now and concretely focus on what we are doing during our working day. Then, shoot up into the stratosphere and see if our efforts are moving us in the correct direction.

Eventually, awareness and focus come back together as one in the present moment, but that’s a topic to explore spiritually or with a community that is moving that can provide feedback to make sure you are moving in the right direction.

We covered strategies on effective short term thinking in: Don’t Get Buried by Your Business Problem Solving Method so we are going to focus on what to do to enhance our long term thinking to make sure our daily actions are in alignment with where we want our life to go.

Effective Long Term Thinking

There are three ways to gain greater clarity depending on what you’re wanting to accomplish. I like to think of these times as:

  1. Reflecting – Applying insight from past results towards future action

  2. Visioning – Clarifying what you want to be, feel or have in the future

  3. Deepening – Discovering more about who you are; your true nature

Let’s explore how and when to use each of these and get the most out of them.

Reflecting

Reflecting is the process of analyzing something that has already happened, in order to come away with different actions that will hopefully produce better results in the future.

When reflecting, you’re primarily looking for Meaning or Patterns.

Reflecting may involve looking at one event or situation to find its meaning, or you may choose to look back through many situations over time (the past day, the past week, the past month, the past year or even your entire life) to see the patterns that emerge.

An example of looking for meaning after a single event might be reflecting on a fight that you had with your spouse. If you’re open to it, you will find a lesson in this event that, if applied, will make you better.

An example of looking for patterns might be when you analyze your prior week to identify tasks that were important, but where you didn’t take action. A first step would be to gather a list of the tasks where you had trouble focusing. Once you have the list, consider asking the question, “what do these situations have in common?” And, of course, “what was it about these situations that caused me to resist?”

It is patterns that help you see how your actions over time are producing results. And, therefore, if you change your default actions, you will get different results.

That means when you are looking for patterns, don’t put a lot of emphasis on one event or situation, but rather look for several times where you are doing something you don’t want, like putting off the same task several days in a row.

Remember that your life is just a series of experiences. These experiences are neither good, nor bad. It’s a gift that we can look at the results we’re getting in life over time and make adjustments along the way. 😉

I will typically dedicate regular time for reflection, including at the end of the week, on my monthly creative days and of course during annual planning.

Visioning

Visioning is the process of looking ahead in the future to get a picture or feeling of what you want or where you want to be. This process helps us to get clear about the steps we need to be taking today in order to line us up with the destination we wish to arrive at.

Every time you read your vision, it embeds itself deeper into your subconscious so that you are more likely to take important steps without thinking about it a lot. Of course, this only happens if you’ve been reading your vision regularly for a while.

I would encourage you to spend part of your creative time, reviewing, and tweaking your vision.

Deepening

One of the greatest teachings that has been passed down since the dawn of human civilization is “Know Thyself”.

I never really understood this, until I began my own journey in discovering what I wanted, or why I experienced suffering, or why I had thoughts and feelings I didn’t want. The answers finally came. It took a while and it wasn’t what I was expecting… It was so much more.

After more than fifteen years, I can tell you there is tremendous reward in walking this path.

Taking time to ask these questions and do the work leads to true fulfillment. And, it’s only through true fulfillment that we can reach the highest level of life, that of positively impacting the world around us.

Short term and long term thinking are essentially your secret weapons to solve your own challenges, create huge business solutions, answer your own questions, and guide YOUR life whenever you want.

Without the ability to shift between the two, we are often left buried in the weeds, not knowing if what we are putting effort into will actually get us to where we want to go. Or, we are left dreaming about the life we want without getting in gear or taking action. Toggling between short term and long term thinking ensures that the gains we are making in life are consistent and moving us in the right direction.

Resources and Citations