Life is a game, right? We can all agree that skill is required to rise to the top. It’s chess, not checkers, which means that it often requires keen strategy and patience to ultimately reach success, however you choose to define that term.
The decisions we make today will influence where we end up years from now. Simple enough? Sort of.
This idea is universally applicable and involves a variety of experiences that will hopefully help to guide us along the way. Over time, we develop and mold visions of the lives we wish to lead. These visions might include family, friends, education, adventures, pets, cars, homes, promotions and everything in between.
We inherit some of these things or gain them naturally, but most require time to develop. This is where you must decide whether or not you are willing to play the long game.
The opposite of the long game is immediate gratification. Immediate gratification not only reflects a desire to strive for maximum benefit in the short run, but also a person’s inability to recognize how a decision or course of action might be better suited to simply wait.
It is a person’s willingness to cheapen opportunity cost, or rather, to accept only what comes immediately. This move is as easy as it is risky.
So, the long game requires patience. Patience is a trait that is extremely difficult to master and for some, seemingly impossible. However, for those who have it figured out, it is a valuable asset. Patience is a prerequisite for the long game and a strength-training tool for the mind that can last a lifetime.
The long game applies to all different areas of life, but there are two that stick out more than the rest: romantic relationships and career goals.
When it comes to romance, I am no expert. I have made more mistakes than I care to admit, but I know one thing to be true: If you force it, it will eventually break. The “best” relationships develop over long periods of time and establish strong foundations for what lies ahead.
When a true gentleman decides there is a person worth pursuing, he will do it with tact. He has little need to rush and understands it is more important to earn trust and create something genuine than to form a relationship that will break to pieces at the first stress test. He is playing the long game.
Any individual worth keeping around for a long time should expect this sort of behavior from a potential partner. A healthy romantic relationship is one of the best feelings that we, as human beings, are able to experience, and its pursuit might just drive you as wild as the thought of the person on the other end.
Then, there’s life as a professional. I began a job with a new company over a year ago, and within the course of those 12 months, I was on quite the emotional roller coaster.
It has been a culmination of highs and lows that I will not soon forget. Through it all, one theme that resonated more than others was my desire for more responsibility, NOW. At times, I felt cheated watching colleagues receive positions on other projects.
As I sat thinking about it one day, I realized how childish my reaction was to this very grown-up situation. I realized that the best course of action was to just do my job and do it to the best of my ability. Over-deliver often and management will have no choice but to assign additional responsibilities.
Play the long game with your career by keeping your head down and trust that opportunities will arise that will increase your value. Rising to the top of any “corporate ladder” takes time. Imagine where you want to be a year, two years or five years from now, and do what you can do today to make that happen.
The long game is just one option for a course of action, like anything else in life. The idea does not apply to every situation and often, it IS better to react rather than mull over the details.
That sort of distinction comes with experience, but the parts of life that are best applied over a longer course of time may just appreciate the consideration and return the favor tenfold.
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