Earlier in the year, I thought about performance. Mainly, I contemplated the idea that every individual trains for countless days and hours at a particular mastery. And that, sometimes, the outcome is not always a guaranteed success, or at least doesn't make the degree of impact that the person anticipates.
And the thought of failure can be seriously de-motivating. That compels people (I'm guilty too) in act in their short-term interests, procrastinating by watching television, spending instead of saving, or more.
Then I began to think about the difference between thickheaded willingness to take risks without thoughts of consequences and the instant-gratification-resistant children in the Stanford marshmallow experiment, for example. I'm reminded of our increased ability to think in the abstract, the concept of modern philosopher James Flynn as I've mentioned in a previous post on intelligence.
As straightforward as it sounds, the further removed we are from poverty (and thus the need to act in short-term interests like food and shelter), the more privilege we possess to think in the abstract. And long-term goals are exactly that--abstract.
The more thoroughly we comprehend the abstraction that is our long-term goals in life, the easier it is to be motivated to get there. Of course, it's also important to enjoy the process, but I think success will increasingly become inextricably tied to our capacity for abstract thinking (also paired with attention span).