You can live a fulfilling life of success and achievement, or you can live in mediocrity. How can you tell which one you’ll have? Here’s one way: the longer your time frame when planning (like making long-term goals) and making decisions, the higher your chances are in becoming successful.
Many of us think that things like educational attainment, being born into a rich family, intelligence, among some, are the only factors that lead to success, yet Dr. Edward Banfield found otherwise. After studying a lot of financially successful people, he discovered that the most important factor is a particular way of thinking: Those who are successful tend to have a longer “time perspective.”
What does that mean? It’s simple: high-achievers think long-term. Successful people think further into the future when making plans and daily choices, and by contrast, unsuccessful people tend to only think about short-term enjoyment and forget about the long term negative consequences.
Short-term thinking brings underachievement
Brian Tracy gave examples on how, at the lowest levels of society, people like alcoholics and drug addicts think in extremely short-term time spans. Their thoughts and “goals” are only about the next drinking session or the next drug fix.
Another example is how the poorest of the poor, thanks to living in desperation, can only think of survival and thus forget to think about finding ways to earn wealth and rise above poverty.
Here’s another example that’s easier to observe. A large number of workers and employees think only of the next paycheck, and on the exact moment they receive it they think of where to spend it all. In their working lives, many only do the minimum work necessary to avoid getting fired and they forget to think about the things they need to do in order to advance their careers.
Those who fail to plan unknowingly plan to fail.
Many live their lives just reacting to problems and spend their entire lifetimes achieving nothing worthwhile.
On a more positive note, some of the poorest people do plan for the long-term, but only on one aspect of their lives: Their children’s education. They work hard every day, earning and saving all they can, to make sure their children graduate school, and many of them succeed.
What about those who learn to plan for the long-term in all other areas of their lives? Those who make big goals for their future and work to earn it? They generally don’t stay poor for long.
Successful people tend to think long-term
In contrast to underachievers, successful people tend to be goal-oriented and they tend to think more about the future, such as considering the long-term consequences of their actions and habits. They do more of what brings good results, and they do less of what brings negative results in the future.
Instead of spending all their money, they invest it wisely on assets that produce more money.
Instead of wasting all their time on pointless entertainment (TV, mobile games, Facebook/social media, internet videos, etc.), they use it to improve themselves by reading great books, taking care of their health, expanding their business, and more.
They plan for their career growth, take on new tasks willingly to learn new skills, and do more than what’s necessary to establish their value in the company (thus becoming easier to promote).
They are the ones who think big, plan their future, and slowly build their dreams, one small decision at a time. They do it every day, moment by moment, whether they feel like it or not, and that’s why they succeed.
What are YOU thinking about?
What to watch on TV later? That mobile game you’re playing? How many hours left until you leave work?
How many days left until the weekend? Where to borrow money to buy that cool new gadget? How to survive until the next paycheck?
Do you think about advancing in your career? What do you need to learn to earn more income? What business should you start?
Have you thought about starting or growing your own business? Do you think about how to expand it in the future? Do you plan on expanding nationwide or internationally?
Again, those who think for the long term and consider the future when making plans and decisions are the ones most likely to succeed. What do you tend to think about in every waking moment? Have you started thinking about your future?
Where will you be 20 or 30 years from now? What will you have achieved when you retire at 65 or 70? What do you plan to do when you stop working? How will you pass on your assets to your children and grandchildren? How will you make sure that your descendants live well and succeed in life long after you have passed on?
What legacy will you leave the world before you die?
“Change your thoughts, and you change your destiny.”
– Joseph Murphy