Short-term/Long-term Paradox

Your short-term and long-term goals might require contradictory behavior.

You’ve probably heard stock quotes about winning battles versus winning wars. And there’s something to this: a battle is a short-term fight, whereas a war is a long-term affair composed of numerous battles. If you want to be successful over time, you need to balance the short-term needs of battles with the long-term needs of wars.

Your short-term “battle” might be a specific near-future goal, like getting a promotion or winning a tournament. But your long-term “war” is probably more aspirational.

This has parallels to the business world, where we talk about mission statements versus vision statements. A mission statement describes what you want to achieve today, whereas a vision statement describes what you want to achieve tomorrow. A mission statement is an attainable goal, whereas a vision statement is an aspirational idea that may not actually be achieveable..

Let’s consider an example:

  • Your short-term goal might be winning a near-future competition, but…
  • Your long-term goal might be to learn and get better every day.

This is an interesting dichotomy because winning often requires different strategies than learning. Winning requires you to use your “A game,” whereas long-term learning requires you to try things outside of your “A game.” So in order to win any given match, you may have to use strategies that defy your long-term goals.

We discussed this in episode 98 with Robert Degle, where he explained that his long-term Jiu-Jitsu goal is to grapple in the spirit of engagement. But to win any individual match, you might need to stall or game the rules. And as Robert said, he doesn’t begrudge any competitor for doing what they need to do within the rules to win.

To manage the dichotomy between short-term and long-term, you need to develop a “switch” in your head that can be turned on and off. This means you need multiple mindsets, appropriate for different situations, and the wisdom to recognize and use the right mindset in the right situation.

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