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Plan as though you'll live forever...

Many of us have seen the saying, "plan for tomorrow, but live for today."

After pondering what bothered me about that saying, I finally landed on a replacement thought...

"Plan as though you'll live forever. Live as if it is your first day on earth."

There may be limits with this, such as if one is suffering a terminal illness with a fairly certain date of demise. But for the rest of us, living by this mantra creates a point of healthy friction that is sorely lacking in many peoples' lives today.

Reflecting on the matter, I realize I've tried to think this way throughout my life and it has had many benefits. It has parallels in business education. Indeed, I think that's where the seed was planted for me.

Once upon a time, business schools used to emphasize that you should consider every business an ongoing concern. The idea is that you should be planning multi-year strategies, laying out contingencies, and planning multiple short-term alternative paths that help you reach your long-term goals. That way your investments in time, training, and capital today can serve multiple alternate paths, preventing wasted effort if you have to go to Plan B or Plan C. This approach also discourages you from putting all your eggs in one basket and failing when you instead have just a Plan A path and it proves incorrect.

Today, this message of longevity is replaced by a constantly-lamented quest for the next quarter... and to some extent, the next quarter alone. In some disciplines of a company this makes some sense. But to run an entire company (or life) in this manner has quite a few drawbacks.

Even worse is the personal approach of, "live for today, tomorrow will provide." We can all look to a generation of foreclosed balloon-payment-mortgage homeowners and $100,000-indebted jobless college graduates to see that such a motto and a naively positive attitude may indeed provide a way to subsist... but it is a less-than-desirable way to live.

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