The Long Game

You're going to be doing this for a long time. Plan accordingly. (Excerpt from Have Fun, Get Paid: How to Make a Living With Your Creativity)

In order to gain control over your career, and by extension your personal life, you’re going to need to apply consistent effort over an extended period of time. Whether it’s improving your craft, marketing, or even that New Year’s resolution to lose a few pounds, the most common mistake people make would look like a very sharp spike if you saw it on a graph.

When you’re excited about making something happen, it’s easy to generate that initial burst of activity. Your mind is full of ideas, the possibilities seem endless, and you dive right in. For a week, maybe even a month, you live on cheap pasta, bad coffee, and no sleep while you slave away to accomplish your goals. And then, nothing.

Month two finds you doing very little in comparison to the previous period. Maybe you spend a few hours here and there, but it feels more and more like drudgery. Gone is the excitement and the adrenaline that accompanied it. With little effort, there are likely few results, so you don’t have that to keep you fired up, either. By month three, the goal’s pushed to the back burner, that time-honored place on the stove for projects that we’re hoping the cat will make off with in the dead of the night so that we no longer have to look at them.

When you have goals in mind, it’s usually because you need or want something. Because we humans can be an impatient lot, we often want it right away, because our need is now. If, for instance, what you’re trying to generate is money, having more of it today would be really nice. What we tend to forget, however, is that this time next year we’re still going to need it.

Building a career requires long-term strategy, not short-term thinking. You’re going to want better opportunities, more money, and greater prestige this year to be sure. The same can be said a year from now, and though it’s so far away it might seem like another planet, you’re even going to want it twenty years from now. Take care of business to address today’s demands, but play the long-term game. That’s what really gets you down the road, and that’s where time management can be incredibly valuable.

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