Work Traits

Long Term Thinking

Long term thinking means making decisions in light of their future consequences.
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What does long term thinking mean?

Long term thinking means you're comfortable envisioning and consciously working towards the future. It’s a viewpoint that brings to life the exciting possibilities of what’s to come, and each decision you make is made with an expected timeline in mind. 

You’ll be more able than others to see, hear and feel the future as if it was the current reality. You’re concerned with questions like “What will this mean in 6 months time?”, “How will our current trajectory play out in 5 years?”, and “Will this be obsolete or outdated at some point?"

The way you plan things will be a mix of practical and visionary. Roles you might enjoy are strategist, futurist, forecaster, and planning director.

We call it: Future

Level of future orientation: long term thinking, dreaming about and hoping for the future.

Entrepreneurs should always aim to play the long game. Instant gratification cannot build a legacy.

Andrena Sawyer

Leaders who are long term thinkers

Anne Lise Kjaer

Anne Lise Kjaer

Anne Lise Kjaer is a Danish futurist, writer, speaker and founder of the trend forecasting agency Kjaer Global. Her firm helps leadership and innovation teams understand and navigate the future, and she speaks all over the world about the importance of innovation and future thinking. 

Kjaer began her career as a designer, and after helping fashion brands predict upcoming trends, expanded her methods into a wider framework for understanding complex convergences of different societal forces. 

She helps organisations forecast trends by using a unique methodology called ‘multidimensional thinking’; a mix of the scientific, social, spiritual and emotional.

Her mentality is nicely summed up through an interview in the Financial Times: "The future is not some place you go but one you create."

Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel is a German-American billionaire entrepreneur and venture capitalist, known for being a co-founder of PayPal and Palantir, as well as having multiple successful investments in Silicon Valley tech firms. His talents as an investor are clear, and while not every bet of his was a hit, he has one of the Bay Area’s most impressive portfolios. 

That kind of success comes from serious long-term thinking. His book 'Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future' calls for entrepreneurs to show more ambition when building new ventures - you’re not just building a company, he says, you’re building the future. And you can’t do that by getting bogged down in the minutiae of daily concerns. 

“When we think about the future, we hope for a future of progress."

Peter Thiel
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Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg is a Swedish environmental activist and author. She became internationally known at a young age for her call to governments around the world to address climate change. 

The topic of climate change is naturally rooted in the future - it considers the consequences of our actions through decades to come - but Greta wants to avoid it becoming the present.

While her efforts aren’t for personal gain, the power of Greta's outlook can’t be denied - she’s had two Nobel Peace Prize nominations by the age of 17. Her powerful words at the UN Climate Summit in New York, 2019, sum up her futurist outlook in a stark warning to leaders: "The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say - we will never forgive you."

The benefits of long term thinking

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Future-focused energy can give hope to others and fire up their excitement.

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Zooming out to the long view means you can spot patterns that other detail-oriented people might miss.

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A natural planner, teammates can rely on you to build roadmaps to future success.

The blind spots of long term thinking

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Visionary thoughts can sometimes be a little detached from reality, leading to occasional missteps in decision making.

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The futurist mindset can seem a little crazy to those that prefer the here-and-now approach.

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Long term thinking can sometimes lead to unrealistic expectations of what can get done in certain time frames.

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How to increase long term thinking

1) Speak to the future.

Words you might want to increase in your daily communication are ‘future’, ‘plan’, ‘foresight’, ‘dream’, and ‘vision’. These will help orient your thought processes to the long term.

2) Talk more about your plans.

Don’t be afraid to dream big. You might be inspired by how receptive people are to hear a usually down-to-earth person share their vision. By talking about them more, you’ll convince others as well as yourself.

3) Take a moment to cool down.

Emotional decisions - whether made through excitement or fear - can lead to cloudy thinking and poor long-term results. If you’re planning something that might have consequences, sleep on it first. Then, once you’re feeling more level-headed, see if it still fits with your long term goals.

4) Map out the consequences.

A more systematic approach to long term thinking might be just what you need. If you feel the future is fuzzy and uncertain, plan things out in monthly or yearly steps - you might find it brings more clarity than you expected.

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