This post is a detailed explanation of one of my principles. All posts in the series can be found here.

“Focus on the Long Game” is a line I’ve been saying to myself for years. I first saw it on David Ulevitch’s Twitter and it’s stuck with me ever since. I’m guessing we have a similar interpretation, though I’ve never asked.

I chose this principle for the following reasons:

  1. As a reminder to think on a long-term horizon
  2. To define what long-term really means

I’ve noticed that myself and many others have a difficult time visualizing the future. It’s easy to anticipate some changes, but often I imagine a future state that’s actually only 2 - 3 years out. On that timeline, the distant future - the future beyond what I can picture - is scary close.

I have a long life and I want to think on a timeline of a similar magnitude. Many aspects of life are like a chess game. How you allocate your time today affects your future options and decisions. Thinking about my own life, I don’t want to have a strong start and a weak finish. I will never be able to foresee the distant future, but my strategy needs to prepare me for it.

A year is a span of time that I can comprehend, but a decade is vague and abstract. In the past year, I’ve observed lots of changes, but my life is fairly similar and about what I expected. A decade ago, I could not have imagined my current state. I was a senior in high school and I am a different person today. Will I be saying the same things when I’m 37? What about 57?

There aren’t any tricks to see the distant future. I accept that and I’m not looking for any life hacks to help me. All I can do is think on a longer time horizon so that I don’t make short-sighted decisions or burn out when there are short-term obstacles obscuring the bigger picture.

The future is exciting to think about, especially because I get to create my own. Focus on the long game. And breathe.