This is always a sticky subject, particularly in the world of instant gratification through social media (probably where you are reading this), Amazon one day delivery, one-click buy… and you can probably name a few yourself. Sadly, getting into the habit of instant gratification typically ends in us getting more of what we don’t want.
Delaying gratification is simple in principle, saying no to the wrong things in the short term to have a ten fold gain in the long term. A few examples of this would be saying no to those shoes you “have to have”, going for lunch and “sneaking” in a desert on your diet and other subtle lies we tell ourselves to justify our behavior. The impact of teaching and developing it as a habit however correlates to overall success and mental well-being (nice article at Psychology Today about same).
Delaying gratification is a huge undertaking but I found the following tips made it easier for me to practice and build the habit myself. Before I make purchasing (or eating) decisions, I try and think about the decision in relation to the person I truly want to be, my authentic self. Before you act on impulse try asking yourself a few questions.
- Does buying (doing etc.) this now take me away from my longer term goals?
- Why do I feel compelled to need/want this now, is it due to marketing or media messaging?
- How will I feel a week after I made the decision, will I regret it?
- Do I think I want it because of my own beliefs or that of the crowd – whats more important?
- Could there be a benefit to saying no to this now and yes to something else I truly want later?
Although this is a subject which has multiple books written on it. I hope this serves as a gentle reminder that if you want to chase down an audacious goal, you need to say no to the wrong things and keep your eye on the prize. Another resource I would recommend is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Feel free to comment below, if you have any techniques or tools that help you delay short term gains and end up with BIG results it would be great to hear from you.