Last week we talked about how to be undisruptable in our careers by adopting a mindset of permanent reinvention. This week I’m going to share my two big takeaways from

 The Long Game : How to be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World by Dorie Clark.

Having the perspective of a long-term thinker means setting big goals and a vision for your life and recognizing that it will take years to achieve. In fact, Clark recommends thinking in decades. This years long approach to the vision of your life may seem a bit of a bummer, but as she says, the time is going to pass anyway. Why not have a road map that you can follow to get the life that you want?

Being a long-term thinker doesn’t mean that you can’t pivot quickly to changes or setbacks. In fact, some of what Clark talks about crosses over with the  Infinity Curve  of permanent reinvention that we discussed last week. Her thesis is that if we point ourselves toward the North Star of the future that we want and take small steps to get there every day, eventually we will. She calls this focus strategic patience. I love this term because it is a new way of practicing patience, which always feels still, actively.

Here are two of the ways of thinking she suggests to be a long- term thinker.

Think in Waves

As we navigate our careers, it is easy to feel overwhelmed because there is so much that we feel we need to be doing in order to move forward. You can’t do it all; at least not all at once. Instead follow the Career Waves where you sequence between:

Learning – Study your career field so that you become an expert. Read books, subscribe to newsletters, take video courses, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries. Read biographies of people that you admire whose careers you want to emulate. How did they get to where they are? What can you take from their journey? Read the trade papers of your industry so that you can keep up with current events and trends.

Creating – Creating content shares your expertise and makes you an expert, giving people a way to discover you. Create using your strengths, the way you are the most comfortable. You can write articles, newsletters, and books. Or give speeches and conduct webinars. Host a podcast and make videos. Or even create visual art.

Connecting – Now that your content is getting noticed, use it as a way to meet people in your field. Work on creating your network. Start with trade organizations and your alumni groups. Use Meetups and Facebook groups to find people to connect with. If you don’t find a group that is exactly what you are looking for, start it!

Reaping – You’re at the top of your field, making money, and have prestige. It’s time to enjoy the benefits of your hard work.

Then like the Infinity Curve, the cycle starts again. It’s time to move on and learn something new.

From the book: Like ocean tides we need to learn to ride each wave and transition into next. Trying to hold onto a wave for too long leads to frustration and stagnation. But when you can absorb the lessons of each and gracefully shift, it enables you to keep growing, developing, and moving forward.

20% Time

20% time is a Google method of spending 20% of your time experimenting and innovating.  Famously Google Mail and News came out of this policy.  The challenge is to carve out that free time.  To find your 20% set boundaries for your work. For example, maybe stop work every day at 6:00. Or block out two hours every Wednesday afternoon for your 20%.  Also, you may have to give up other habits that are eating up your free time like binging Netflix or playing video games. Don’t give them up entirely, just cut down on the amount of time you’re doing them to make room for your 20% of innovation.

20% time gives you permission to explore your interests and see what works while the stakes are low.  Without time to explore and experiment, you can expect a lifetime of doing the same thing over and over again. But with steady consistent effort, 20% time can lead to life changing returns.

Even if you have no idea what your ultimate goal is, embracing 20% time is still a good idea.  Some of us may already have a general sense of where we want to go but aren’t sure of the path to get there. 20% time can help you with that too.  Another reason 20% time is so valuable is that new efforts often take a while to transform into a source of income.  All side hustles that blossom into money making operations start out as 20% time.

Challenge Questions

  • What is something I am interested in that I can do a deep dive on?
  • What can I create? You can start small with a 60 second video or a two paragraph article.
  • What group can I join to broaden my professional network?
  • If I’m in a period of reaping, what’s next!?
  • How can I find my 20% time?
  • Where can I schedule it? Or what boundaries do I have to set?
  • What habits do I need to cut down on to find my 20% time?

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