3 catchy reasons why you should think in the short-term

Inspired by a wonderful 10-week ukulele program that we organized at an independent senior community a few years back, HCA decided to provide ongoing weekly piano classes for residents of Community X in late 2012. Despite expressed resident interest in music classes and some smashing promotional efforts, the classes struggled with attendance throughout the 2013 year. We eventually decided to take a short hiatus to regroup and reconsider our subject and approach.

After enjoying a slam-bang series of art workshops and an equally successful 10-week fine arts program at two different communities in late 2013 and 2014, we got to thinking about timing. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? That’s a common and anticipated question during job interviews. Where do you see yourself in 3 months? Not so much.

While our curiosity and culture clearly value the long-term (and with good reason), there are some undeniable advantages and benefits to incorporating some shorter-term goals, opportunities and relationships into the mix. What’s more, if we can learn to break down all that long-term stuff into a few series of shorter-term stuff, we can progress even faster towards the proverbial 5-year plan. Here’s why:

1. JOB APPEAL

Now that more traditional notions of the “career” are being challenged, we’ve noticed that more and more of our interviewees are interested in experimenting with new job opportunities before committing to a change in the long-term. Many interviewees are looking to work in flux to accommodate increasingly mobile lifestyles. On top of this, the economic trends and the shift towards technical vocations due to skyrocketing tuition costs have a lot of college students out looking for miscellaneous ways to earn money and gain experience during the summers or an isolated semester. By giving shorter staffing stints at your company, you can more rapidly grow and diversify your network, opening doors for more permanent staffing solutions in future.

2. URGENCY

When experiences have definitive start and endpoints that are spaced relatively close together, people tend to fulfill their tasks in a more aggressive fashion. In the longer-term, it’s easier for complacency to set in, for individual hours, days and months to matter less. But when you’ve got results that you need to churn out in a finite amount of time, the clock becomes the butter to your toast. Butter up and see how much more efficient you and your staff can become.

3. VALUE

In economic terms, reducing the supply of a product drives up demand. The same principle applies to time: shortening the length of a goal-fulfilling period or opportunity can increase its perceived worth. This may not always be true on a staff level — many people will still value their enduring bread and butter jobs more — but it’s certainly true from a product and consumer level. At HCA, our 10-week programs consistently attract stronger participation numbers than any of our ongoing classes. There’s something about a “limited edition” class that makes our residents commit to it with greater fervor.

This last reason was the tipping point for our decision to launch a 10-week piano class at Community X. In our excitement to provide ongoing music classes at yet another community, we ourselves for- got how influential the role of time could play in our own programs. We are psyched to provide an environment where our staff, participants and funders can all feel the excitement of a more rapid culmination towards that final class, one that we hope will be a student performance!

How do you balance the short and long-term in your professional life? In what ways have you benefited from greater consideration of the short-term?