I’ve got a bunch of kids and they have a bunch of different attitudes. 'Course I’ve got good attitudes about iTunes, but the specific attitude I want to discuss today is the attitude of long-term versus short-term thinking. One of my daughters has a very short-term perspective on money and what she does with it. When she wants something she works very hard to earn the money to buy it. And then she goes out and buys it immediately. She doesn’t save her money, she doesn’t wait for the future, she simply buys it. Another one of my daughters never buys anything; she saves all her money for something down the road. She doesn't enjoy doing anything with her money; she simply saves it.
I grew up in a Christian home believing that short-term gratification is always trumped by long-term. The only problem is that simply dividing yourself between short and long term misses a bunch of the important factors needed to make a decision. The decision is not long-term versus short-term, but the decision is rather much more complicated. Sometimes the short term can help us get the correct skills and assets we need to live the life we want long-term. And other times, simply doing something because it looks favorable in the moment can be a detriment to the way we want to live our life long-term. Here are some factors to think about when determining long-term versus short time.
Does the short-term activity help my long-term goals?
Does the long-term view pay off? Do I know for certain what I’m doing today will pay dividends tomorrow?
Is this experience/skill/money important for the direction I’m headed?
Do I need to take the short-term action in order for my long-term action to even be viable?
I personally have taken some actions that appear to be in a long-term best interest for my life, but once I began down the long road of work needed to obtain the long-term vision I realized that I was actually on the road leading to nowhere. Simply being willing to forgo the short term benefits of something doesn’t make it valid or even viable in the long term. We need to be evaluating our situations in the short term to deal with crises and needs. Once we have done this we can then begin moving towards our long-term objectives. If we do not keep our needs in perspective, the long-term can be the wrong answer. So I guess my question for today is: do you have a long-term or short-term view and which arena are you working in today? Is it the right arena for you right now?