In a time of ongoing change and uncertainty, creating space for long-term strategic thinking can seem like a nearly impossible task. In fact, a global study conducted by the consulting company Management Research Group found that out of 10,000 senior leaders, 97% believe that strategic thinking is the top leadership skill needed to achieve success at their organization. Yet, a similar study found that 96% of executives feel like they don't have time to do so.

Recently, author and Duke University Professor Dorie Clark led Chief Members through a workshop on how leaders can create time for long-term thinking in order to achieve a specific goal.

1. Create More White Space: Clark explains that an individual's ability to create time for long-term thinking is often hindered by a non-stop schedule that's filled with meetings, emails, and a long to-do list of other tasks. To break up the busyness of one's schedule, she suggests leaders ask themselves four questions before saying "yes" to a request: 1) What is the total cost of this request? 2) What is the physical and emotional cost? 3) What is the opportunity cost? 4) How would I feel in a year if I did or didn't do this?

2. Find a Balance Between Keeping Your Head Up And Keeping Your Head Down: In order to successfully become a long-term strategic thinker, Clark says it's important for leaders to know that both hard work and networking is needed. She warns leaders to not be so consumed by the duties of their workload that they forget to lift their head up to socialize and meet new people who can help them achieve their goals.

3. Figure Out Your 20% Time: Similar to Google's 20% rule, where workers are encouraged to spend up to 20% of their time on activities and projects outside of their job, Clark says leaders should devote 20% of their schedule to invest in professional development or other personal goals they're hoping to achieve. "Let's be realistic. You might not have the bandwidth to do it right now," Clark says. "Maybe it's 3% time. But whatever we can do to carve out that space for ourselves, that is how we begin to create career insurance."

4. Bonding and Bridging: Clark explains that building and maintaining a diverse network is the key to having a successful career, which is why she says leaders should focus on bonding and bridging their social capital in order to improve their strategic thinking skills. Bonding, she says, is building relationships with people who have similar interests to you. While bridging is building relationships with people who are different from you. "If we are not thoughtful, and if we are not conscious, our networks can very much veer toward over-indexing on bonding capital," she says. "But here's the thing, a healthy network — which we have to work and fight to cultivate — is a network that has both bonding and bridging capital."

5. Watch Out For Raindrops: When implementing long-term thinking in order to achieve a specific goal, Clark says it's easy for a leader to feel like they aren't making progress. She says that maybe something they thought would take a few months is taking a few years to achieve and they want to give up. To combat this feeling, Clark says it's important for leaders to take stock of the small wins, or what she calls the "raindrops," they've had on your journey.

"Those are the things that you need to look for," she says. "The small signs like the unsolicited email from your boss praising you. The invitation that you get to be on a podcast or to speak at a conference…We have to look for that. We need to recognize it because those are the signs of progress."

6. Don't Let Others Define What You're Capable Of: When a leader is strategically thinking and working towards a goal, Clark says it's not uncommon for them to encounter people who weigh in on what they can and can't do. But it's critical, she says, that they remain focused on the thing they're trying to accomplish. "We have to have the self-confidence to realize that we are more than the line items on our resume," she says. "If we peel it back, there are foundational skills that we've developed that are transferable and that we can deploy in new and creative places.That is a form of long-term thinking."

7. Think About The Type of Person You Want to Be: When mastering long-term thinking skills in order to achieve a goal, Clark says it's important for leaders to consider the type of person they want to be down the line and to ask themselves if they're aiming towards that. "If we're clear on that, it helps us understand a lot more about the choices we want to make that are right for us," she says.