Most of us are able to respond to a feedback loop in the short run. The real opportunity and challenge is to get much better at recognizing the long loops.
A critical skill to develop is to be able to work on something today and not reap the benefits for a long time. Depending on the item, that delay may be days, months, years, or even beyond one’s lifetime.
This has been represented in the psychological experiment known as the Marshmallow Test, ultimately coming down to “do you want one marshmallow now, or two marshmallows in 15 minutes?“. Those who were able to wait demonstrated generally stronger life skills, including higher SAT scores, being able to cope with stress better, and a lower Body Mass Index when compared to those who caved and ate the marshmallow early.
We demonstrate this on a regular basis. We grow plants from seeds, knowing we won’t be able to harvest them for months. We invest in our retirement.