Jul 31, 2021

The medium term

I mostly hear about short term and long term goals. What does it mean to think about the medium term?

How to Design a Better Body is one of the best fitness articles I’ve read. I like how it’s about more than arbitrary fitness metrics or looking a certain way.

We’re building a body equipped to deal with life, and I want you to think of a workout as anything that will improve your resilience. Good sleep improves your ability to bounce back from stress. Meditation sharpens your mind. Maybe today you plan a week of healthy eating and then go to the store. Congrats—you just worked out.

I thought about this section a lot, but thought beyond fitness and about life in general:

5. Think medium-term.

The idea is to create a mental framework that allows you to pile up small wins and bounce back quickly from minor losses. Take that half-marathon: Getting in shape to drop the hammer for 13.1 miles is a big, long-term project—thinking about it in its entirety can be overwhelming. And in the day-to-day grind (short term), you may not feel like you’re making much progress. But at the end of each week (medium term), you’ll see that you got your miles in—and those weeks add up. Thinking medium-term will also help you constructively rebound from setbacks: If you miss your run one day, don’t beat yourself up—you have six more to get back on track.

The long term is a long time away (think decades). For the decisions that really matter at that time scale, like picking a career or buying a home, you might only get a couple of chances in a lifetime. So long term decisions are conservative.

The short term is the total opposite. It’s what is happening tomorrow, the next week, or maybe a year from now. It’s about what you’re eating for lunch, what you’ll be doing next weekend, or where you’ll live next year. The short term comes and goes. Mistakes don’t last that long. More opportunities are always just a few days or weeks away.

The medium term is all about resilience. You don’t learn from mistakes in the long term; you already had once chance and won’t get another. You don’t learn from mistakes in the short term; the stakes are too low. The medium term is where you can learn to take risks and learn from mistakes. Consequences may last for a few years, but you’ll have the time and the opportunities to try again.

I think one domain that’s always thinking medium term is venture capital. VC generally have 10 year funds. That’s a perfect medium term time range. I’m now wondering: how can I direct my life and make investments like a VC manages a 10 year fund?

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