Recently at work I was asked to be part of a group that will discuss and analyze how we each accomplish short-term vs. long-term tasks. This has nothing to do with the actual tasks themselves, but focuses on how we organize our day/week/month in order to reach our goals. I joined the group, mostly because when I’m asked if I want to do something at work I say “absolutely, I do” (via Jim Halpert), but also because I find the subject interesting.
Emphasizing the how not the what, and its relationship to the short and long term future.
When I went home after the group’s first meeting, I couldn’t stop thinking about how my personal life would look through this lens. Two things happened when I started to pit my long-term against my short-term life. I immediately organized my family’s calendar onto a shared Google calendar, so that I do not have to solely rely on memory and an erasable white board. I’m confident that being able to access my calendar beyond the walls of my kitchen is going to change my life, and I already feel great about it.
But beyond calendars and schedules I got to thinking about how I think about my life in the short and long-term perspective, and the immeasurable consequences that view has on my feelings about the future. How we tend to get excited about big events next week, next month, or next year; when life is really made up of the day to day.
As an exaggerated example, at 31 years old I’m already excited to reach retirement age and live in some sort of maintained community with my friends, reliving our glory days. I have a long-term goal of retirement and I’m excited about it. Working tomorrow will ultimately help me achieve that goal, but am I excited about it? No, not really. Will I even live to see retirement age? I have no idea, but I sure am looking forward to it. Will I live to see tomorrow? Probably, but I’m not exactly excited for it. It doesn’t make any sense.
Why am I looking forward to the long-term, instead of the short-term? It makes my short-term seem lackluster in comparison, and it really isn’t. My life is great.
Thinking too much about thinking started to hurt my brain (seriously Nikki, do something more with your life), so I decided to stop the nonsense and simplify it. I decided to once again force anticipation into my life, just for shits and giggles. Two times each day, once before going to bed and once at lunchtime, I’m going to make a mental note of something that I’m looking forward to in the next 12 (or so) hours. I’m going to do this for one week with two limitations; it cannot be about food (obviously I’m always excited for my next meal) and it cannot be about the kid. She already takes up 95% of my brain and we’re in a standoff over the last 5%.
Wish me luck!