See What Happens When You Play The Long Game

This Week’s BIG Idea

This week, we’ll discuss what happens when we play the long game rather than the short game. One area that I’ve always struggled with is decision-making. I don’t like making decisions when there are too many options to choose from. This is called decision paralysis and it overwhelms people to the point that they rather not do anything at all than have to make a decision they’ll regret later on. But what if there was an alternative? What if making a decision could be simpler?

Whenever I have to make a decision, I ask myself if I have to play the short-term game or the long-term one. It’s easy to go for instant gratification, but there’s a big advantage to what a lot of people refer to as “playing the long game”. What if we choose, cultivate, and invest in success every day for as long as possible? What if we choose the people who are good for us? Or the food that’s healthy? Or reading a book rather than a watching television show? What if, when given more than one option, you choose the one that will have the biggest impact?

If something is worth it in life, it’s probably a long-term game. The long-term game isn’t sexy. In fact, it’s straightforward and boring. But once you start reaping its rewards, its advantages are undeniable. To play the long game, we must sacrifice a fraction of today to get rewards months, maybe years from now. Go to bed early, eat healthy food, invest in relationships, exercise, learn to play that instrument, or save money for an emergency.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have short-term games. Playing the short-term game is tantalizing. This is a life of indulgence, taking advantage of others, spending carelessly, avoiding everything that takes effort, or ignoring those around you or even yourself. You’re rewarded right then and there. But those tiny actions will ruin you and it’ll eventually get to the point where the consequences are impossible to ignore. Choosing ice cream over a healthy snack feels inoffensive, but if the compound effect proves anything is that those seemingly innocuous actions build up over time. As the author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, eloquently put it, “You get what you repeat.”

By doing something, anything at all, you’re either playing the short-term game or the long-term one. So which one will it be? Over time, those decisions will grow in magnitude. If you’re anything like me and you have trouble making decisions, this is another filter you can use to simplify your life. And your future self will thank you for it.

What I’m Working on

After toying with the idea of having my own commonplace book, I finally started transcribing some of my favorite quotes and passages. Although I’m going to start reaping the benefits from this system months from now, I think it’s worth it. As the title of this article says, “let’s see what happens when you play the long game”. The best part so far is that I reread entire books and some terrific ideas are resurfacing already.

What I’m Listening to

I’ve been catching up on some podcast episodes that have been on my radar for literally months. Right now, I’m listening to Deep Dive with Ali Abdaal, and the next episode on the list, which I’m incredibly excited about is the one embedded above. As Ali wraps up each season of Deep Dive, he compiles the most important lessons he learned and releases them in the form of a bonus episode. His episode has been a terrific way to get to know entrepreneurs, authors, digital nomads, and productivity gurus.

What I’m Reading

  • The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber: Some of the books I’ve enjoyed the most are related to philosophy, more specifically, Stoicism. The Little Book of Stoicism is a great introduction to the ancient school of philosophy. Salzgeber says that while traditional education doesn’t prepare you for adversity, he learned how to live from Stoicism and he shares a series of lessons in this actionable guide. I’m enjoying it so far and I can’t wait to share the summary of this book on the site.

What I’m Watching

Many people in their early 20s and 30s are looking for opportunities to make money online. In this video, Ali Addaal discusses some of the alternative income streams that can make you $1000 a month. Some of those include content writing, video production, short-form video editing, thumbnail creation, and website design, among others.

This Week’s Quote

All the benefits in life come from compound interest — money, relationships, habits — anything of importance.”

Naval Ravikant

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