Here are five reasons why you will never work on a project that will take five years to demonstrate success:
- Organizations are designed to orient employees towards yearly outcomes. If you don’t believe me, take a look at your performance appraisal system. Working on anything that takes longer than a year, usually rewards you only in the year that results begin to show. In the intermediary years, you need to continue to crank out results in other areas that will allow you to stay long enough to taste the fruit of your five year project.
- We, as regular human beings, do not possess the patience or the generosity to forego potential earnings in the current year for bigger gains in year five. We are designed to maximize for now. Take for example the reason why we continue to break all diets or hold on to our bad habits. Our current self finds it almost impossible to invest in our future self.
- Forget about self, your boss will likely fail to understand why you chose to work on something that will not demonstrate results within the year. Her temptation to deviate your efforts towards something that will yield immediate outcomes will be high. Ever heard – ‘This is more important. That can wait?’ Well, maybe it became important and urgent because you thought it could wait.
- On the other hand, neither you nor your manager may stay with the project, let alone the organization, for five years to reap benefits of the multi-year effort. Having a great idea, also requires people to follow through the execution irrespective of how long that takes. Often this means overcoming endless naysayers, pulling together multiple conflicting parties, mighty resistance from all directions, burning the midnight oil and waiting many years.
- But mostly because it is mentally exhausting! All of the above takes out so much of you that you begin to forget who you were. All you want to do is let it all burn in hell, throw down your hat and walk away. All you want to do is be like everyone else and run the same rat race; why bother doing something different?
Really, why work on anything that will take 5 years?
Unfortunately, almost anything great requires years of toil. Maybe not five, sometimes one or sometimes ten. I personally know most of the downsides if not all of working solo on something that takes up to three years to show any results and then maybe more. But this much I can tell you – the joy of getting it done and the relief of getting it off your chest makes you a better person.
Don’t believe me? Maybe give it a try.