Yup….W-A-I-T. It’s a 4 later word, right?
Delayed Gratification… Wikipedia defines it as the “Ability to resist the temptation for can immediate reward and wait for a later reward.”
It’s the opposite of what our culture has taught us. I grew up in a drive through, get-what-I-want now world.
And with the advancement of technology this is more true than ever. The world is at my fingertips - with my smart phone in hand I have instant access to information, entertainment, and social connection - right now!
While we all enjoy this convenience, we need to remember that much of what we most value are the things that take time and tenacity to acquire.
I can’t be fit after one week of exercise. Or build a social support network of deeply meaningful relationships without first putting in the time and investment in others. I won’t become the president of the company without first investing time and energy to get there. Education, career, rich relationships, wisdom, maturity…..so many things that matter just take time.
There are many benefits to the ability to delay gratification. In fact, the most successful people are those who exhibit this trait. Those who excel at delaying gratification are able to accomplish larger goals that require sacrifice. They tend to fare better in their careers, as well as physical and emotional health.
How can you develop the ability to delay gratification?
First, ask yourself what your goals are. Where do you want to be in a month, a year, 5 years, 10 years? Now picture yourself being there. Get very specific and clear on exactly what you want that to look like. Write about it, or create a visual of it. Keep that picture prominent in your mind as you push forward! Keep your eyes on the prize! What we focus on is the direction we head - our feet naturally follow where are eyes are looking!
As I have been watching the Olympic competitions recently there are amazing and inspiring examples of athletes who excel delaying gratification. They excel not only in their sport- but they excel at tenaciously focusing on and working hard towards their goal. They give up pleasure in the moment time and time again in exchange for potential future reward. They have delayed immediate gratification year after year in pursuit of acquiring that which they most desire.
Sometimes creating the most happiness in our lives involves giving up what makes us happy in the moment. We sacrifice this moment’s pleasure & gratification for that which we value more.
Is there something you want more than that which makes you happy in this moment? Will the bag of chips really move you towards how you want to feel? Will sleeping late instead of getting up to exercise make you feel good about yourself later? Will buying those shoes you shouldn’t indulge in - and don’t need - help you accomplish your financial goals?
Resisting immediate gratification is rarely easy. The good news is, it is like a muscle - the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes.
What you tell yourself in the moment is really important. Try telling yourself “I can get through this - I can wait - It will be worth it”. And bring up that vivid image that you worked on of where you want to see yourself in the future. Just as the Olympians have coaches - be an encouraging coach to yourself. Tell yourself “you’ve got this!” And then notice, yes, you do!
Learning to wait. while not glamorous, is worth your while as you create your best life!