How to Develop a Long Term Perspective
The Temptations of Living in the Present and the Perils of Forgetting the Future
The digital revolution has accelerated change and has induced in us a tendency to live for the moment without thinking of the longer term consequences. As we are bombarded by 24/7 breaking news and the media cycle and we are constantly on Twitter and Facebook not to mention scouring the internet for the latest news, we tend to forget that there is a need to keep in mind the fact that change occurs over a longer period of time and the signs and events that we mistake for change in the here and now are just that meaning that they are transitory. In other words, if we hear or read anyone whether it is a politician, businessperson, or a celebrity proclaiming some statement, we should not be carried away with the immediacy of those statements and instead, must adopt a longer-term perspective that would serve us well in our lives. This means that we should not be carried away by the seduction of the present with its promise of instant gratification and instant results and instead, must keep our sights firmly on the horizon that stretches well beyond the immediacy of the present.
Present Shock and How Not to Be Carried Away
This tendency to live in the present and forget the future has been termed as Present Shock by the noted social scientist Douglas Rushkoff. In his book by the same name, he terms the current obsession with the here and now as being detrimental to businesses and society and warns of the dangers of relying too much on our digital selves and forgets the age-old lessons about how we need to plan. In other words, he warns us about how businesses and individuals must not lose track of the need to conserve resources, build slow and steady for the future, and invest in themselves so that they have something to fall back on after the immediacy of the moment is over. As the cliché goes, this too shall pass and hence, we must not take hasty decisions in business and our personal lives based on only the current trend and instead, must pause and reflect on the consequences of our actions for our future. This means that unless we adopt strategies that articulate a vision and are backed by a spirit of mission and a sense of purpose, we are likely to be carried away by the pressures and the perils of living in the present and hence, are likely to be poorer materially, intellectually, and spiritually over the longer term.
Some Lessons from Leading Psychologists and Social Scientists
It has often been said that businesses and corporates live for the next quarter or live from quarter to quarter. However, research has shown that those businesses and business leaders who have their feet firmly on the ground and plan for the future are more likely to succeed over a longer time than those businesses that solely focus on delivering results for the present. Likewise, individuals who sacrifice the pleasures of the instant for longer term perspective, defer gratification, and have an overriding philosophy in life that lets them weather the storms of the present and emerge stronger over the longer term have been found to lead fulfilling lives that are often rich emotionally, materially, intellectually, and spiritually. Lest the readers think that this article is sounding like a lecture, we would like to remind you that the facts and research by social scientists like Daniel Goleman and Douglas Rushkoff underpin the content of this article and hence, we want to drive home the point that while it is easy to get lost in the promise of the present, the perils of the future are equally important for businesses and individuals. We hope that the message of deep and lasting changes that actualize with time is understood and imbibed for those who are starting their careers, and those who are already professionals but find themselves rushed because of the Present Shock.
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