Longer Term Thinking and Reading History

Like most things in life, I believe that decision making is much like a rocking horse, and that there exists a harmony of factors that go into making optimal, personalized decisions. The most relevant variable that I also think is highly under-explored by individuals is the time-orientation vector. In simpler english, I think the hardest, yet most underratedly valuable category (or input variable) for thinking about decision making is one’s expected time of return.

How long do you expect to see the benefits or consequences from a decision you make? 1 Year? 1 Hour? 1 Decade?

Everyone has a preference, depending on the situation, that is built around a variety of meta-layer inputs.

I, personally, try to balance two extrema: “what is the best decision I can make for myself to maximize my impact over the next week?” while at the same time thinking “where should I be exerting my energy to maximize my impact over the next century?”

Long term thinking is an immensely powerful skill that requires understanding of nuanced factors as well as an irrational layer of ambition. Long term thinking does not purely imply you are a long term planner (as I actually believe meticulously making a 10 year plan rarely turns into anything). Rather, I believe long term thinkers are those that follow a compass that anchors their North and they recognize the journey ahead is long, will be hard, and requires patience.

The best things in life take time. Marathons. Sprinting marathons.

How do you increase your ability to think long term? My favorite way is to read books. Read old books. Specifically, read about the Chinese Empire. Read about Apollo 8. Read things that took a long time to accomplish. Realize that no remarkable endeavor, at any point in history, was easy to accomplish. The best things are hard and hard things require hard work and hard work is doable but takes time.

Balancing action and patience…that is a hard thing.