Is long-term thinking the solution?  Fred Dirkse sent me this older blog post by Derek Sivers called, “Trying to Pursue Many Different Directions at Once?” Derek actually posted this in the summer of 2011, and it spoke to Fred.  I know it speaks to so many of us.  Long-term thinking is the solution!  Check it out.

Trying to pursue many different directions at once, but not making progress?

Frustrated that the world wants you to pick one thing, because you want to do them all?

TTrying to Pursue Many Different Directions at Oncehe problem is you’re thinking short-term.  Acting as if you don’t do them all this week, they won’t happen.

The solution is to think long-term.  Do just one for a few years, then another for a few years, then another.

You may have heard this story:

Buridan’s donkey is standing halfway between a pile of hay and a bucket of water. It keeps looking left and right, trying to decide between hay and water.  Unable to decide, it eventually falls over and dies of hunger and thirst.

A donkey can’t think of the future.  If he could, he’d clearly realize he could first drink the water, then go eat the hay.

Don’t be a donkey.

You can do everything you want to do.

You just need foresight and patience.

If you’re 25 now, and have 7 different directions you want to pursue, then you can do each one for 10 years, and have done all of them by the time you’re 95. (Safe to assume that by the year 2081 it won’t be unusual to live to 95.)

It seems ridiculous to plan to age to 95 when you’re 25, right?  But it’s a fact that it’s (most likely) coming, so you might as well take advantage of it.

Then you can fully focus on one direction at a time, without feeling conflicted or distracted, because you know you’ll get to the others.

We’ve all done this on a small-scale.  When something is urgent and needs to be done that day, you really focus.  You get distracting thoughts for from time to time.

“Look a shiny penny.”


And you put it out of your mind because you know if you just focus on this one thing right now, you can get it done, and do the other stuff afterwards.

So, expand that into months or years.

Focus on one at a time, knowing you can do the other stuff afterwards.

Most people over-estimate what they can do in one year, and under-estimate what they can do in 10 years.

Think long-term.

Leverage your future.

Stop being short-sighted.

Are you a donkey?

(If you’re interested in this, please read “future-focused or present-focused?” Also see this great comic with the same approach.)

As always, please share your thoughts, comments, and questions below.

XX, Ruth Schwartz

(© 2011 Derek Sivers)

Ruth Schwartz

Ruth Schwartz is the author of "The Key to the Golden Handcuffs". She is a high performance business consultant and leadership coach. Connect with Ruth to participate in the conversation. Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube .