Book Review: The Long Game: How to be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World

Posted by Kristin Arnold on May 29, 2023

The Long Game

The inside jacket cover to Dorie Clark’s latest book, The Long Game: How to be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World spoke to me: “Your personal goals need a long-term strategy.”

Amen! But how do you do that when society favors immediate gratification? Clark sums it up this way:

“We need to be nimble and adapt when circumstances change. But long-term thinking is what undergirds everything and enables us to make those adjustments. If all we do is bumble along, reacting to stimuli, we won’t be anywhere near our goals. But if, instead, we embrace long-term strategy and recognize that the path may change over time—that’s what maximizes our chances of success.”

While there is nothing in this book that is earth-shattering, it’s an excellent compendium and reminder of what to do if you aspire to something different. Specifically, Clark encourages the reader to:

  • Be picky and protect your time (my words, not hers). Four questions to help you determine whether something is worth doing: 1) What is the total time commitment? 2) What is the opportunity cost? 3) What’s the physical and emotional cost? 4) Would I feel bad in a year if I didn’t do this?
  • To be great at something, accept that you’ll be terrible at something else.
  • Optimize for interesting and follow your curiosity to discover what is meaningful to you.
  • Seek out development opportunities – investing 20% of your time to explore new areas.
  • Think in decades, not just a few months or even years out. Understand what it really takes to accomplish your goals so you can pace yourself and set realistic goals.
  • Use a heads-up and heads-down approach where at times you are seeking connections and exploring possibilities. Other times, you take time to focus and execute.
  • Consider the “Career Wave” journey of learning, creating, connecting, reaping – and always be learning.
  • Leverage your time, relationships, and desired lifestyle by asking key questions and intentionally shaping the life you want.
  • Leverage your network. Clark has lots of examples here about building and sustaining a network of trusted advisors.
  • Keep the faith! Watch for “raindrops” – small, intermittent signs of progress. It often takes years of consistent effort to reach your goal.
  • Obstacles are inevitable. Give yourself multiple chances to succeed (“at-bats”) and test out concepts in small ways before investing fully.
  • Get started in some small way. Consistent efforts over time and you’ll see your success build!

Finally, Clark suggests there are three habits of the mind worth cultivating on your journey as a long-term thinker:

1) Independence – staying true to yourself and your vision

2) Curiosity – by noticing what we find fascinating and where we spend our time, we can pick up clues about what lights us up

3) Resilience – it’s rare that anything works out the first time or in the way you envision it. So let’s try something else!


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Use This Process to Make Your Goal a Reality

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KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF|Master has been facilitating meaningful conversations between executives and managers to make better decisions and achieve extraordinary results for 25+ years. She's a leading authority on moderating panel discussions and passionate about finding the perfect olive to complement a vodka martini.

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