I fell victim to this mentality. I once felt I was not moving forward in life when I was teaching in a school. I got the job a few months after I returned from University. The pay was not much but the work was fulfilling: Having constant interactions with smart kids gives me joy. Having to scream my lungs off when trying to quiet them in class, having to answer tricky questions and settle little fights, having to be the centre of young kids’ admiration was joy that was worth more than any money could pay for. But conversations with some folks, the constant comparison game I engaged in with friends who I felt I was smarter than who were getting better pay than me, led to me believe I was slaving it out there. I wanted out, with hopes of landing a better job and even starting a business.
My thoughts gained weight and became my reality, I was relieved of my job. I also felt I was not making enough impact, forgetting how I was loved by the students and how I somehow was helping change the narrative, slowly but changing it I did, of how teaching could be. I forgot how I was allowed to express my opinion about my students without having to take the normal route that existed; I forgot how my principal was always ready to listen to my crazy ideas and how we both shared similar ideologies on teaching. I forgot how I was allowed to experiment a bit in my class, I forgot all the wonderful kids who always made sure I left school without cash and with a happy heart. I forgot all those and was more concerned with what some other person was doing. I did not see the long term game. I was blinded by how I was going to make it happen now.
Life is not a game of Now, but one lived now for the future.
Do I mean the long term should always be the core from which you make your decisions?
Yes, and yes and yes!
Your today determines your tomorrow.
We are the product of the decisions we made yesterday.
Life should not be lived on the edge of making today all glorious and beautiful while abandoning tomorrow. We should not all be about what works for me today and forget how those decisions could affect us tomorrow.
I know no one knows tomorrow, but the least you can do is not jeopardize the future for gratification of the now.
Play the long term game. Let your life’s purpose, which is a major determinant in what your long term goals would be like, be your guiding light in making decisions and taking actions.
When that business deal comes your way, ask yourself if it is in tandem with what you want in the long run. Does taking this deal have any future effect on my life? Does it go against what I hold dear to me – ethics and core values? Does it serve as fuel for my purpose in life or does it hamper it instead? If I take this decision now, would I regret it years later? Would I hurt anyone if I take this decision? Even though it favors me, how much of this gains would be beneficial in the future?
These kind of questions gives you clarity and peace of mind, in the long run.
So before you take that major decision, even the minor ones you think have no effect on your future, run them through your ‘life’s purpose machine’ and see how well it does when it comes out of the machine. If the decision comes out looking lean and bloodied, abandon it all together or think of a better option, but if it comes out less bloodied and with a good chunk of flesh still on it, go ahead. You may decide to create a checklist of those things every decision should fulfil before they can be passed ‘fit for action’, that way you can be more precise with the decisions.
It is very unlikely that your best decisions would tick off all the boxes in your list, so don’t feel bad when most don’t. Moreover, it would be unreasonable to believe that you would always make the right decisions with the checklist. There is room for your gut feeling to help you make some tough decisions, especially those that don’t exactly fulfill the terms of ‘good decision for the future’ neither do they fulfill that of ‘bad decision for the future’.
Life is a game, chose which you want: The long term game or the short term game?