Forget about tomorrow

Forget about tomorrow??? Uh, hold on there just a minute.
 
I thought all the smart people in the Achievement and Productivity fields were saying things like “Begin with the end in mind” and “plan ahead”? Doesn’t that mean to be forward thinking, plan tomorrow’s agenda, and all that stuff?
 
Well, sort of. One of the key challenges to achieving our goals is frustration and let’s face it, frustration kills motivation. One very effective way to deal with frustration, though, is by focusing on the long term view, which eases the pain of the “day-to-day” frustrations, delays and setbacks. When I have my eye on my long term dream of (“your goal here”), I know that a single setback won’t deter me.
 
So no, I’m not exactly saying “forget about tomorrow”, just DON’T let the tomorrow become the horizon for your strategic focus.
 
Here’s the key takeaway: Most of us tend to overestimate what we can do in the short run, and underestimate what we can do in the long run. By focusing less on the short run and keeping our eye on the eventual target, it helps keep things in perspective and makes today’s setback not so painful and, consequently, not so frustrating and de-motivating.
 
I work in an IT dept, and the standard of most software projects is that they tend to run over schedule and over budget. Part of that’s because it’s a very complex process, but it’s also owing to the notion that we tend to look at things “generally”, i.e. with less than perfect clarity. From a distance they look easier/less challenging than they are after we get into the details.
 
So what?
 
So, by planning to get too much done tomorrow, and falling short – consistently, we end each day frustrated, disappointed, and certainly having to revise our plan for tomorrow to add today’s unfinished tasks. Sound familiar?
 
The lesson here, I think, and the wisdom of recognizing this tendency, is that it tells us it’s useful to keep a longer term view of things. The unexpected can always derail a short term plan (can you say “recession”?), but a 6 month, 3 year or 5 year plan is much more likely to be successful because it levels out the unexpected delays, and in business it eliminates ALOT of the competition who, as we discussed above, got frustrated and moved on to the next, easier target.
 
Next post: The Science of Career Motivation

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