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Long-term Planning is a Fraud

Written by Val Sopi on Friday, April 04, 2014


Clouds in the sky

Photo by Timo Henke.

This post is rather motivational and quite personal in nature. I’m no motivational speaker of the Tony Robins grandeur, but I have noticed along the way that the simpler the now, the better the future. These are few ideas based on that belief.

Long-term blurriness

Lets all forget about long-term goals for a second. We’ve been trained for so long to think long-term and plan everything according to our end goal. This is all Ok, however as a brain exercise, lets for a moment forget where we want to be in 5 years. You and I both know that everything we are planning now will never pan out the way we envision it 5 years from now. How about this idea: 5 years from today you could be in a much better place (professionally and personally) than you could ever possibly envision?

You see, long-term goals could be limiting in that regard.

Short-term razor-sharp focus

Right at this very moment, lets stop thinking about the future. Lets take the notes off of the bathroom mirror and concentrate only on our short-term goals. Goals that your “today” and “tomorrow” depend on, literally speaking.

You see, the “long-term” goal you are obsessing about, is You. The “long-term” is everything you believe in and everything you want to be. Everything you do in this regard goes to to your ultimate long-term. Trust the little steps in front of you and stop thinking how every little thing will affect the outcome of things 5 years from now. Though, the key here is to be honest in every little step ahead. No short-cuts allowed.

The “long-term” is everything you believe in and everything you want to be.

The long term vision is within us. We don’t have to remind ourselves on daily basis of where we are headed. It’s good to do this once in a while and correct course as necessary. But, you have to trust that every little step you do, will ultimately lead you to your long-term vision. Trust that this will happen. —Correct me if I’m wrong, but I bet as a kid you had no long-term goals? All you cared about was play. And you truly cared about it. So you got better and grew-up along the way and moved-on to bigger and better things. How about applying that same attitude and train of thought to what you’re doing today?

Pablo Picasso famously said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Personally speaking…

The reason I’m sharing this with you is that I’ve “been there”. I’ve had times when I was completely blocked from taking any action, because I was weighing the ins-and-outs of my decisions and how they will affect my future. Being a Libra doesn’t help either.

Its silly to obsess over our future. If we take care of today, tomorrow will take care of itself. You’ve probably heard this saying as well “If I take care of my cents, they will take care of my dollars”. It may sound a bit stingy, but you get my point.

Business matters

At our company we have this silly exercises where we are super technical of where we want to be in a year, or 2, or even 5. I refer to them as “silly” now, because their purpose is fast-fleeting and their meaning changes daily, because at times we grow at a much higher rate than we have planned. However, what has always worked for us is this: Setting values. Values and promises we hold close to our hearts. These things never change. They don’t predict the future or telltale the past. They are simply there: forever embedded in our way of thinking. I call this The Conceptual Context of a company. Ours is to “Forever and ever help creative agencies better manage their operations”. Thats it. No technical data. Nada. A simple promise to ourselves and our clients.

If we take care of today, tomorrow will take care of itself.

On the shoulder of giants

I’m sure a Harvard business professor will frown at my holistic approach to doing business. However, I’m sure after “all is said and done”, they would agree that what you stand for weighs more than where you want to go. BTW their HBR articles on business are amazing! You should check them out regularly.

Its silly to obsess over our future.

In the old days, businesses had to be stricter in their planning. Things went by slower, and one could predict farther down the line. However the biggest flaw with that way of planning, is that today things change rapidly. World economy and stock market fluctuate in a split second, forever changing the path ahead. Countries change borders. Your business plan, can fly out of the window in a fleeting moment. However, there is a way: The promise you keep to yourself and your clients is the true value you are giving out to the world. Now and forever! —Nothing will ever change that. Everything in between is a “silly” exercise.

Conclusion

As a conclusion to this article, I would sum-up these personal findings I’ve learned along the way:

  • Forget about long-term plans of grandeur
  • Trust the little steps in front of you
  • Think of what you’re doing more as “play”
  • Remain an artist of your trade
  • Succeed freely and effortlessly
  • Set values and remain true to them
  • Keep a promise to your self

Read next: Hacking Your Way into Managing Multiple Projects


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