Thinking long-term means more than setting goals. It means being conscious and mindful of your actions and their impending consequences. While I am thinking about this issue from a financial standpoint, there are many other parts of your life that are affected by short-term versus long-term thinking. Think about the successful outcomes of longevity in relationships, marriages, material objects, your home, etc. To successfully endure several facets of our lives, we must maintain and take care of those facets. Starting with a good foundation is the best way to do this.
Psalm 90:4 (NASB)
For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it passes by,
Or as a watch in the night
This is now an age of booming technology and instant gratification. With a new phone, tablet, car model, fashion trend coming out and turning over so quickly, it can be easy to forget to think long-term about a few specific aspects of our lives.
Thinking long term has many advantages especially when it come to Biblical wealth management. I’m sure many of you remember the book The Millionaire Next Door. A common theme throughout was longevity, continuity, endurance. The average millionaire has had a long marriage to the same spouse their whole life, lived in the same house and neighborhood for many years, worked at the same company or owned the same business for a very long time, and lastly, saved their money gradually and consistently their whole life, eventually acquiring the title of millionaire. Every aspect of their lives have been taken seriously and with caution of the consequences.
Think of all the corporations and successful businesses and products that have become household names: Coca-Cola, McDonalds, HEB grocery chain here in Texas, Target, Tiffany & Co, Ford Motor Company, Toyota, Apple, etc. Do you believe their strategies and goals were short-term or long-term? They have stood the test of time, becoming more and more successful for decades, some of them for over a century.
So what does this ultimately mean for you? Well the secret is not what ‘long-term thinking’ means; the secret is really how to successfully fulfill your long-term goals. It means coming to accept the need for patience, realizing and deciding that there is actually something at stake when you forget about long-term consequences. You can never go back.
One place I really see a need for long-term thinking is in situations of sudden wealth. It can create a very convincing illusion of unending resources. I’ve seen countless cases of people (especially from the Eagle Ford Shale play) coming in to wealth and spending it too quickly, thinking in the now, and that the wealth will always be there. If only these people had planned for the future before spending money in the now, their life could be completely different.
Long-term thinking has almost become a lost art. Our culture is ever-changing, speeding along, making it very difficult to imagine what the future may hold for us. You may want to splurge, treat yourself, etc. However, a life full of splurging can lead to extreme regret or destitution in your later years. Try saving up for your splurges, buying them only when everything else is paid off, after you’ve created a nest egg or saved up for your son or daughter’s college tuition. Short-term decisions may cause instant joy, but that can later result in buyer’s remorse or regret. So think of your assets and your actions in relation to your future. What sorts of goals do you have? What legacy would you like to leave? How will you fulfill these aspirations?
Live like Jesus is coming tomorrow, plan like he is coming back in a thousand years.