Are You Playing The Long Game?

Everybody wants to be an overnight success.

But the thing with ‘overnight’ successes is that they never happen overnight.

And when it might look like somebody succeeded ‘out of the blue’ that’s not because they were playing the short game. They were playing the long game.

“Keep putting in the work, the hours, the long term value [because] this is a long, long game.”

– Gary Vaynerchuk.

The Short Game Will Burn You Out

Not many want to put in the effort for extended periods of time. And because they aren’t seeing immediate results, they get discouraged and stop pursuing their ventures.

They get discouraged or they burn out over the long run because they were pushing themselves too hard in the short term.

By trying to achieve too much in a short space of time, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s counterproductive. It’s essentially self-sabotage.

You’re bound to fail because that approach will drive you into the ground. You’ll have expectations that are way too high. Expectations that will put way too much pressure on you. Expectations that will ultimately stress and burn you out.

And the worst thing about all of this is that you won’t look fondly upon that experience and it will act as negative reinforcement to your future ventures.

This is where most people give up and never show up again.

Play The Long Game

It takes a lot of systematic effort and consistency over time.

Habits, structure, and routine are great for maintaining sustained effort and sustained growth. They are great for incremental progress and gradual improvement over time.

For you to be successful at something, you have to stick to the process. You have to enjoy the process to such an extent that you will be willing to commit to it for the long game.

How To Play The Long Game – Insert Coin Here 

James Altucher calls it the 1% rule. Try and get 1% better at something every single day.

In the long run this will amount to massive change.

Aim for incremental progress each day in whatever it is that you do.

Over and over and over again I realize how key consistency is. That a little and often will get you far.

But I wasn’t always fond of consistency and incremental improvement. That is, until I started seeing results from self-imposed challenges.

I experienced this with my cycling.

Case in point: In April, I cycled 5km a week.

Each week I incrementally increased the distance I cycled.

I stuck to the process of adding a few kilometres each week to my overall distance.

By July, I was cycling 100km a week (I’ll tell you why I stopped cycling in a future post).

Also, I used the 1% rule and the consistency associated with it to gain weight.

I had always been a relatively slim guy. My weight always hovered between 61-63kg.

It was one of my New Year’s Resolutions to hit the 69kg mark. Never in my life before had I weighed more than 65kg.

So I wanted to challenge myself. I didn’t want to put on too much fat so I spread my weight gain over a few months.

I focused on gaining 250g a week using FitnessPal religiously. In January 2015 I weighed 61kg.

By May, I weighed 67kg.

Closing thoughts

You can apply the 1% rule to absolutely anything in life. Enjoy the little wins that accumulate over time and amount to a broader picture of success some weeks or months down the line.

By playing the long game, there will always be doubts along the way because you won’t always see immediate success or return on your time investment.

But you have to trust the process.

You have to have faith in that you are slowly, gradually, incrementally improving even if it doesn’t feel like it.

By doing something consistently you will always yield great results over time.

In the meantime, before you get a sense of success from your consistency, focus on the fact that you’re capable of doing something consistently as a reward. Enjoy the little wins along the way.

That is a success in itself.

Be in it for the long game.

Here’s Gary Vaynerchuk:

“And you’re going to look for the short-game.

You’re going to look for that miracle algorithm, you’re going to look for that one move that’s going to change your outcome.

You’re going to continue to search and play the short game while I keep putting in the work, the hours, the long-term value and putting in the work while everybody else is hoping and dreaming.

I’m going to be executing. You play the short game. I’ll keep playing the long game.”

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