Putting An End to the Short-Term Cycle

05.21.2015

It sounds obvious that short-term goals help us with things right now, and long-term goals set us up for the future. But the fact of the matter is that as a society, we are incredibly impatient. We hate lines, we hate waiting, and we want everything right now at this very moment.

Why invest money in the future when you won’t even see the return on investment for years to come? Why focus on future initiatives when you have current looming deadlines? Because I see time and time again that planning for the future is a key driver in success. Yes, you should live each moment as if it were your last, but live each day in your work life by thinking ahead.

For example, when you’re launching a game, as much as it’s hard to see, it’s not just about that game. Do you want this to be the last game you ever make? Chances are, probably not, and that you likely want to use this game to help propel you forward so that you can continue to do what you love well into the future. That means each and every game launch is about so much more than just that game. It’s about future planning, how you will use this launch to shape who you are in the future, and how you will continue to form relationships and talk about what you do.

For a new business or product, just because you can grow your business incredibly fast doesn’t mean you should. Spend some time thinking about who you want to be as your company grows without just rushing to make choices because you are under time constraints.

Having worked with a large variety of clients ranging from game developers to start-ups to well-established companies, I see this mistake being made time and time again: people are incredibly short-term focused. One of my biggest PR and marketing advice tidbits I would offer to anyone is to put an end to that cycle and begin to really consider the future. Even just doing this alone will put you far ahead of the competition and help you differentiate.

It’s easy to look at a success story and see how it came out of the woodwork, as if it happened overnight. And occasionally, this really is true. But most of the time, successful people have been working behind-the-scenes for an extended period of time to make things happen and just made it look easy in retrospect.

We’re all inundated with work and deadlines and don’t have any time to think about what we even plan on eating for lunch that day (I’m guilty of this myself.) You know that pesky question you get asked on job interviews about “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Take some time and think about it and set some real long-term goals with action items for how to get there.

Thinking about long-term goals is particularly frustrating without knowing when the product will be done or in working with a small budget, as the vast majority new businesses and indie developers are. When you only have limited funds, it’s so easy and natural to focus on spending all your dollars on what will get you the most bang for your buck right now. Because of limited resources, short versus long-term goals often get pitted against each other because you believe they’re mutually exclusive. But they don’t have to be!

So how do you deal with this?

The ideal scenario, in my opinion, is to maximize your success now and your future success by divvying up your funds and your initiatives between both short-term and long-term goals. Don’t compromise either at the expense of the other. But in order to do this, it’s important to start with one very essential step many often miss among the hustle and bustle of launching their next product: spend some serious time thinking about your long-term goals and specific action items to get there. I mean think about this beyond just I want to launch this game. What do you want to be known for and really, where do you want to be next year?

Outline where you are now and be honest with yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses and where do you see future opportunities for you to grow? Despite what game or product you are putting out in the near future, create a yearly plan and set aside a definitive amount of dollars to help you accomplish your goals and action items that help you build your future, beyond just your next launch.

Start with baby steps. I think starting with even planning just six months out will surprise you in how much it cuts time in the future by knowing where you want to be and helping you make quick decisions for now and for later.

Being deliberate in your long-term plans and your roadmap for how to get there will help you be smarter about your short-term decisions, too. This way, you can look at the bigger picture and maximize your time, energy and resources efficiently by knowing what’s on the horizon.

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