Short-term thinking vs. Long-term thinking

Someone famous has said – People overestimate what can be done in one year, and underestimate what can be done in ten.

Over the last 25 years, I have made many decisions based on short-term thinking. It took me years to learn through the mistakes and failures 😊

I quit my first job with an IT multinational after 3 years. The reason? I was not happy with the 4/5 appraisal rating given by my manager. I wanted 5/5, a perfect score. I naively believed that I had worked perfectly and deserved the rating. My vehement stance was also fuelled by the fact that another colleague of mine got a better rating than mine and I believed that I was better than him 😊

When I look back, if I had taken a long-term perspective then my choice would have been different. The organization offered many opportunities to me, but I declined in anger. What a loss!

Another incident. A few years later, when I joined another top MNC, I did not negotiate properly for the role I deserved because I was desperate to join this “dream company”. It took me three years to reach the position I should have joined in the first place.
Almost every day during these three years I blamed HR for fooling me & myself for making a wrong choice.

I can quote many more such examples from my career. But you get the point, right?

What leads us to short-term thinking?

– My emotions drove me to think short-term.

– Comparison with peers.

– The fear of losing the opportunity.

– Lack of career planning led me to make easy, quick and convenient choices.

– Instant gratification, like an onsite assignment, tempted me to make a decision in hurry. In one such instance, I let go of a really good opportunity and settled for a short-term gain.

– Frustration with the current state, environment, manager, lack of opportunities, culture, etc.

When overwhelmed by the situation or emotions, don’t make a hasty decision. Take your time to think rationally, take some time off, talk to someone you trust, or consult with a professional.

There are five lessons I learned over years:
1) Take a long-term view of things instead of the immediate future. Look at your career as a marathon rather than a quick 100 meters sprint.

2) Don’t let feelings and emotions drive your decisions. Feelings are short-lived; consequences are long-term.

3) Do not let comparison drive your thinking. Everyone is going through their journey, and you take yours.

4) Failure is not bad! Learn from failures and realign for the long-term goal.

5) Invest in yourself for the long run – career planning, upgrading your skills, working with a coach & mentor, building a good professional network, etc.

What approach do you take to your career decisions?

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