Long-term goals and short-term demands play very different roles, because they each lead*to different places and produce different results.
Everyone has some long-term goals: to educate all their chil- dren, to write a book on the wildflowers of Long Island, to be president of the company they work for, to become a licensed clinical psychologist, to travel around the world. Your list will be specific to you.
Everyone has many short-term demands, many of them familiar to all of us: "I'm hungry." "I'm bored." "I want to watch the late movie." "I don't want to study." "I can't live without that dress." "I have to make this deadline." "I need a break."
Short-term demands will always seek action. The action they seek most often is relief. These actions are usually designed to help people feel better. They eat. They drink. They take drugs. They go on shopping sprees. They watch television for hours. They look for distractions.
When relief becomes the driving force, people often take ac- tions that are not in their own best interest. Such actions, how- ever, do not help them feel better for very long, not only because most of these actions do not help them create their long-term goals but also because the conflict causing the short-term de- mand does not go away. In fact, some people seem to move from one short-term demand to another, and then another.
When you stay in touch with your long-term goals by asking yourself, "What results do I want to create in my life?" it is easier to take needed actions toward these goals. Secondary choices become clear. Even intervening temporary conflicts do not distract you from your life direction.
As you define your primary choices and form secondary choices that support your primary choices, you will be able to develop the ability to distinguish between your long-term goal and the short-term demands that can distract you from them.