August 26, 2020

Taking the long view

Being part of the generation that grew up with technology, I’m used to getting things done fast. It doesn’t help that I grew up in a small city-state known, among other things, for its efficiency.

Why wait? When I can traverse the country in under an hour. This mentality of getting something done fast can creep into other aspects of life if I’m not careful.

Am I progressing in my career fast enough? Am I achieving what I want to achieve quick enough? And that’s not even trying to compare with others. How about seeing others climb up the corporate ladder when you’re not?

But we each have our own race to run. And I believe that we need to take the long view.

That’s the only way to sustain any progress. Otherwise, when we move too fast, we run the risk of crashing and burning.

When we’ve not learnt to handle greater responsibilities, being given more might stress us out. When we’ve not learnt how to handle our finances properly, a sudden meteoric rise in our incomes might get to our heads.

Putting in 16 hours a day to pick up a new skill might help you make great early improvements. But can you sustain that throughout your lifetime? Or even just over the number of years of practice you need to be great at your craft?

Chart: Long-term progress might be more important. But it might mean slower progress initally.
Slow initial progress vs slow progress later on

I think we need not be afraid of making slow, but incremental progress. Take the long view instead. Set a pace that’s just right for you. Something sustainable over the long-term.

In a culture that places unnecessary limelight on quick successes – be it people or businesses, we can be the ones who believe otherwise. Sure, some are just born with the talent to achieve success early. But that doesn’t mean that all of us have to rise quickly (and perhaps crash quickly).

Remember the tortoise and the hare.

Slow and steady can win the race. (Provided you know what kind of race you’re in)

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