Category: Wealth

Delayed Gratification For Success

Delayed Gratification For Success

What is Delayed Gratification

Delayed gratification refers to the ability to put off something mildly fun or pleasurable now, in order to gain something that is more fun, pleasurable, or rewarding later. For example, you could watch TV the night before an exam, or you could practice delayed gratification and study for the exam.

Delayed gratification is one of those fundamental skills that is hard to see in the moment, but becomes very obvious over a long period of time.  To be successful in life, you will have to master the tyranny of your desires.  The greater your ability to sacrifice today, the greater your success will be later in life.

“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.” – Lao Tzu

Stanford University Marshmallow Study on Delayed Gratification

Back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s  psychologist Walter Mischel of Stanford University performed a study on delayed gratification.  In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward (marshmallow) provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned.  In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.

It wasn’t that the children who could wait had better genetics than the ones that couldn’t. They were simply better at distracting themselves.  They would sing, walk about, kick the table, do just about anything to keep their mind off the temptation.  If you remain in the presence of and with a focus on the temptation, your willpower will not be enough.  Keep yourself distracted until either you or the temptation are separated.  Go and do something productive to not only distract you but to achieve something as well.  Focus on the goals you are trying to reach that the current temptation will distance you from.

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality” – George Lucas

Delayed Gratification Will Make You Successful Financially

Your finances are the easiest thing to see where delayed gratification will reap benefits.  Without a good practice of delayed gratification, you will end up with mountains of debt and never being able to retire.  Those small daily spending habits certainly add up.  I used to know a guy who went to an expensive coffee shop twice a day.  No kidding, he was spending $10 or more per day just for coffee.  He was smart, but obviously not good at math.  That is $3650 a year just for coffee!  He could have purchased a decent used car with coffee money.  Math is your ally when considering a recurring expense.  Before you make the purchase, multiply it out and decide if the purchase is better than what you could buy at the end of the year.  Besides, the coffee you make at home would probably taste better and be less fattening.

Retirement is an area people struggle mightily with delayed gratification.  It is so hard to decline today’s desire for a need you might have 50 years from now.  The worst case scenario isn’t that you’ll be dead by then and have missed out on so much.  The worst case scenario is that you’ll be alive bye then and have too little to live comfortably.  Neither your brain nor your body will be in great shape to work, but you’ll have to because of the petty purchases you made in your 20’s.  It is hard to see as a young person, or even middle aged person.  It will be starkly obvious as an old person.

“Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.” – Richard G. Scott

Delayed Gratification Will Make You Successful in Health and Fitness

Your health is probably the hardest thing to know without a doubt how the lack of delayed gratification will add up.  You will even use the argument of “who knows if we’ll even be alive tomorrow” to justify your indulgence of the day.  Either way, you will not be better off by indulging today.  The amount of pain and suffering you will experience in later years, as a result of the indulgences of a lifetime, will be far worse than suffering through today’s denial of one temptation.  Whether it is smoking, drinking, junk food, or lack of exercise, you are making deposits into the account of your health.  Keep your focus on the “balance” of your account.  Don’t skim over this paragraph.  Re-read it, and meditate on it.  It is important that you “know” this, understand this, and weave this into your thoughts and life.

Anticipation is More Enjoyable Than Instant Gratification

You don’t have to avoid every indulgence for the rest of your life.  Indulgences just need to be the exception rather than the rule in your daily habits.  You will find the indulgence yields far greater pleasure if you have to wait for it.  We live in a “now” world these days and waiting for something is a lost art.  I can shop on my phone and have just about anything I want delivered in an hour or two.  There is nothing wrong with that, but I could end up buying things I’ve not thought through.  Impulse purchasing.

The thought of the object of desire is always better than the execution.  Most of the cars I’ve bought over the years were wildly exciting the day I bought them.  It didn’t take long until they turned into just another way to get from point A to point B.  Never have I been thrilled with the indulgent item I ate or drank after it was consumed and frequently I have felt terrible afterward.  It seems that only recently have my purchases been satisfying for longer periods of time.  Hopefully that is a result of putting more thought into what I buy.  All of the things I have purchased 15 years ago are now gone.  Focusing on what you will feel like months after obtaining the desired object might dissuade you from getting it.

In summary, whether the choice is about what you eat/drink, how you spend your money, or how you spend your time, learn to bypass the empty calories in life so that you will have a more abundant life in the future.

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” – Author Unknown