Published on October 01, 2019
The Power Of Delayed Gratification
Focus On The Big Picture
Written on October 01, 2019 • 4 Minute Read • Comments
If you've ever asked someone successful for advice on how to achieve what they have, most likely they will talk to you about delayed gratification. Delayed gratification is a principle about giving up an instant reward today for an even bigger reward
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Stop Giving Into Short-Term Pleasures
In the culture we live in today where everyone wants everything and they wanted it yesterday, the thought of even asking someone to say no to something fun, entertaining and exciting today for something possibly better in the future often times blows people minds.
It's this principle though that is a building block the most successful people have adapted to in their lives.
The Marshmallow Test
Most of you have probably heard about the Stanford Marshmallow Test but for those of you who haven't it goes a little something like this.
Stanford did a test with children to see the effects of delayed gratification in regards to rewards.
Children were brought into a room and sat a table where a researcher placed a single marshmallow on a plate on the table in front of them.
The researcher then said, "I am going to leave the room for 15 minutes but when I return, if you haven't eaten the marshmallow, I will give you a second one."
Once the researcher left the room though, the children did a variety of things to not eat the marshmallow.
Some pocked at it, some played with it and rolled it around, some licked it, some closed their eyes so they couldn't see it, some even turned their chair around or pulled their hair.
Only a few children were able to last the full 15 minutes and were given a second marshmallow.
What really was amazing in regards to this test was the research concluded long after the children grew up.
The kids who were able to wait for the second marshmallow, were the kids who got the highest grades in school, didn't try drugs and ended up with higher paying jobs.
By delaying the short-term rewards in life they were able to wait and receive the larger rewards down the road that most people don't want to wait for or work towards because they want instant gratification.
Why Is It So Hard To Wait
If we know that we'll get a bigger reward by holding out and waiting, why is it then that most people give into temptation and take the short-term reward?
The problem is willpower and each day we only have so much of it.
Every day we get our willpower tempted by advertisements, our own thoughts and desires and body functions.
As that willpower tends to wear out we find ourselves falling into short-term temptation and not delaying for bigger rewards.
Willpower is like gas in your car... When you resist something tempting, you use some up. The more you resist, the emptier your tank gets, until you run out of gas.
McKnight University Professor
Willpower is a limited resource in our lives but there are ways to renew and escape the chaos of life and shallow rewards.
What we eat can significantly have an effect on how we perform and the temptations we fall for throughout the day.
How many people do you know and maybe yourself once 3 PM rolls around you find yourself ready to go home from work?
How many times have you told yourself you were going to go to the gym after work but then at the day you say you're too tired and instead go home relax on the couch and eat chips and ice cream?
By controlling the types of food we eat throughout the day, we can control how we fight off temptations. Just watch the commercials for Snicker's "You're Not You, When You Are Hungry" or Kit Kat "Give Me A Break" and you quickly realize these marketing messages were genius.
The only problem is that a sugar high isn't healthy snacks and almost reinforces the temptations as you fall weaker to their prey.
The best way to ensure that you stay focused throughout the day is by eating complex carbohydrates and proteins.
These types of foods tend to break down slowly in your bodies ensuring that you stay full and your mind stays strong, that way the next time temptation comes knocking you can say, "No, no no, I am delaying the small rewards for the big ones."
Present Rewards Over Future Rewards
Another reason why people aren't able to delay their gratification is often times we put an emphasis on goals that happen now.
Just like the marshmallow test, waiting seems to put less value on those rewards later in time when instant gratification is staring you right in the face. This occurrence is called, hyperbolic discounting.
It's for this same reason when most people are saving up to retire, instead of putting money back, they think their retirement is so far out into the future that they splurge their entire lives, then realize when they are a few years from retirement and have no nest egg saved, they are not going to be able to quit work.
Delayed gratification is a powerful value and although sometimes really difficult to implement in your life, when done properly the rewards are sweeter and worth the wait.
How are you going to kick instant gratification in the butt and not fall for the long hanging fruit and hold out for the good stuff? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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