Monday, January 25, 2010
In the late 1950’s, Dr. Edward Banfield, professor at Harvard University studied the factors that made people successful. He concluded that those who were able to make decisions that did not pay off immediately had a “time perspective” and became the ones who would be successful later down the road. For great things to happen it is very important to think long term. Nowhere else is it more evident than in areas of our life such as health, finances or our personal relationships. For success in each area we must understand that taking steps today will likely not produce results tomorrow. Yet if we take those steps with the perspective that it takes time for great things to happen we will surely reach our goals in the future.
Often times we take our health for granted until we have gone so far that it seems impossible to get it back to where we want it to be. Many of us look for quick fixes that will allow us to loose weight immediately and with minimal effort (commitment). For every wrong decision we made that negatively affected our health we have to make continual positive decisions to bring our health back. You will not loose 50lbs or run a marathon in one week but if you are able to think long term, making every move in the right direction you will reach your goals.
The best example of someone who thinks long term before reaching financial success is a doctor. They spend up to 10 years of studying and interning, laying down the foundation for a lifetime career before becoming a doctor. We appreciate how long it takes to become a doctor and we admire the sacrifice they have made. That is one of the reasons we hold them in such high regard out of any professional group. After years of investing time and effort they make a large salary. Doctors are a perfect example of somebody who thinks long term before being financially rewarded.
To become successful we obviously need to think long term. Thinking short term has been the downfall to many. Alcoholics and drug addicts demonstrate cases of people who have a very short “time perspective” as their only concern is how they can get immediate satisfaction in their next fix. Short-term thinking is something that also has affected our younger generation. The ‘Echo-Boomers’ (born between 1982-1995) are the first to grow up with internet at home, have 500channels on TV, cell phones, instant messaging and ipods. This generation expects instant gratification and has been having a hard time being able to think long-term. Many expect the $100,000/year job as soon as they finish 3-4years of post high-school education which is far from reality.
Delayed gratification is the key to success. Our ability to practice self-discipline and self-control to sacrifice the short term is the key starting point for each of us. By having an attitude of “time perspective” we will set ourselves up for a successful future. Practice long-term thinking in every area of life and be willing to work hard for reward down the road. Start now! Think where it is you want to be 5 years from now with regards to your health, finances and your family. Begin making the sacrifices today to set yourself up for the future – have a long “time perspective”.