Long-time perspective June 19, 2006Posted by humairah in Definitions & References.
"The amount of time that you take into consideration when planning your day-to-day activities, and when making important decisions in your life"
In 1974, sociologist Dr. Edward Banfield of Harvard University wrote a book entitled, “The Unheavenly City.” He described one of the most profound studies on success and priority setting ever conducted. Banfield’s goal was to find out how and why some people became financially independent during the course of their working lifetimes.
He started off convinced that the answer to this question would be found in factors such as family background, education, intelligence, influential contacts, or some other concrete factor. What he finally discovered was that the major reason for success in life was a particular attitude of mind. Banfield called this attitude “long time perspective.” Time perspective referred to how far you projected into the future when you decided what you were going to do or not do in the present. He said that men and women who were the most successful in life and the most likely to move up economically were those who took the future into consideration with every decision they made in the present.
He found that the longer the period of time a person took into consideration while planning and acting, the more likely it was that he/she would achieve greatly. The essential key to success in setting priorities is having a long time perspective. You can tell how important something is today by measuring its potential future impact on your life. For example, if you come home from work at night and choose to play with your children or spend time with your spouse, rather than watch TV or read the paper, you have a long time perspective. You know that investing time in the health and happiness of your children and your spouse is a very valuable, high-priority use of time. Thus, the key word to keep in mind when you’re setting priorities is sacrifice. Setting priorities usually requires sacrificing present enjoyment for future enjoyment. It requires giving up a short-term pleasure in the present in order to enjoy a far greater and more substantial pleasure in the future.
Another example of a long time perspective is the common habit of upper class families in England to register their children at Oxford or Cambridge as soon as the children are born, even though the youngsters will not be attending for 18 or 19 years. This long-term thinking is what causes parents to open savings accounts for their young children to assure that they will be able to attend good colleges when they graduate from high school. Having and planning for the future is long time perspective in action. The young couple who begins putting $50 a month aside in an education fund so that their newborn child can go to the college or university of his or her choice is a couple with long time perspective. They are willing to sacrifice in the short term to assure better results and outcomes in the long term. People with long time perspectives almost invariably move up economically in the course of their lifetimes.