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Long Term Goals, Short Term Amnesia

By David Berry: I have had a persistent problem for most of my adult life, personally and professionally. I’m willing to bet you’ve had the same issue.

And it’s this – I’m always working for the bigger picture but getting bogged down in the smaller stuff along the way. Case in point. On April 19, when I started DB + Partners, I told myself to plan for 90 days of hell. The long term goal was to define myself as a business consultant who happens to be a marketer. I wanted to become a trusted, go-to resource with high-end solutions without fluffy overhead costs.

I expected to rack up some debt. I knew I’d struggle to find clients, to define myself in a cluttered space and afford the things I knew I needed, like a website, a new laptop and ya know, food.

Well, I’m at day 75 out of 90; two-and-a-half months into my business. I have this basic website, I have a new laptop, I’ve accrued no debt and I have clients I’m proud of. The long term goal is the same and I’m making progress toward it.

Success, right?! Wrong.

I spend more time lamenting what I haven’t achieved than what I have.

Second-guessing the day-to-day decisions I make (if I’m doing client work, I’m not growing the business. But if I’m not doing client work, I don’t have a business). I have FOMO with regard to the fun/exciting things I could be doing at a ‘big ad agency’. And I always wonder how I could be doing all of this, but faster.

My clients fall into the same traps. And because of who I am, and how I’m built, I understand them. Particularly because it’s me who they’ve chosen to invest their money with. They’re spending their hard earned dollars on something that needs to pay off. They’re exposed and vulnerable as a result.

And this is exactly where so many of us develop short-term amnesia. When we’re vulnerable (financially, professionally, emotionally, etc.), we tend to forget the bigger picture. We instead focus on short term pain and discomfort. If it hurts us and we’re uncomfortable, we second guess our decisions. Or fear that progress is not happening fast enough.

In those moments, we need to pause, step backward and look at the bigger picture. And go through this exercise.

  • Ask yourself – is what I’m doing in line with my bigger vision?
  • Am I being realistic with my expectations for where I am?
  • Are these fears/concerns going to matter in 10 minutes, 10 days or 10 weeks?

Often times, you’ll find yourself a lot farther along than you expected after asking these questions. Which is why it’s also important to document and track your progress.

If you’re chasing a year-long goal, then you need to be realistic and tangible in tracking efforts along the way. Mark off 90, 180, 270 and 360 day benchmarks. A year-long goal won’t be achieved in 90 days, but several other things will. Keep yourself honest.

And you’ll find that you’re doing just fine.