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People who delay their gratification for a later day or time, end up having more success in all areas of life; financial, health, career and relationships. That’s a huge deal. So, what exactly is a delay of gratification? This is the choice of not doing something now for something bigger later. What you are doing is simply choosing self-discipline over the ease that distractions bring along with them.
Here is an example. You have homework tonight, but you want to take a nap because you are tired, you had a very long day. Instant gratification says, “Having a rest right now will just be wonderful, you should go for it. While Delay of gratification says, “Delay that nap so you can do your homework now to obtain something later on” (in this case, a degree).
A two-decade experimental study was conducted to determine the correlation between self-control among toddlers and the toddlers’ success later in life. The experiment was simple but straightforward. A group of preschool children were brought in a playroom where a bowl of sweets can be found on top of a table. The children were asked not to take any candy until the teacher or facilitator returns after a few minutes. The children were being monitored via the one-way mirror and their behaviours recorded on video.
The pioneering work is now better known as the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment. The experiment was started in the 1960s and 1970s at Stanford University.
Similar experiments were conducted on other groups of children from different places and backgrounds. As expected, some children followed the instructions and were able to have some self-control. Some were easily tempted to take sweets from the bowl and even tried to lie about it. After two decades, the participants in the psychological experiments were tracked down and evaluated.
Those who showed self-control as toddlers were generally more successful than their counterparts. Majority of them performed well in school, were better socially adapted, and were able to have good jobs. Most of them became responsible parents. Meanwhile, those who have demonstrated a weaker level of self-control were less successful. The experiment gave insights into the correlation between delayed self-gratification and success.
Today, we live in a world where we want things now. We rush, we have little patience, no time and we can be very impulsive. These behaviours are becoming a habit and are rolling into areas of our life which can predict success or failure.
We want a promotion at work, now, we want a degree, now, we want the best marriage, now, we want to be CEO today, we want our bank account filled up this second, we want the latest cell phone, car, and piece of technology, now. We even want answers, now.
Unfortunately, people who have a low capacity for self-control are proportionately greater than those who have good self-control. This is reflected in demographic and economic data. Although there are other factors that determine success, self-control or the capacity to delay the urge for self-gratification is a crucial factor.
Here are some tips on how to practice delayed gratification:
Think long-term – Setting goals should include long-term or lifelong goals such as stable careers and family life. These long-term goals can provide individuals with focus and direction. All others are minor details, and some are mere distractions. Long-term goals will help people avoid unproductive things and strive for things that are worthwhile to pursue.
Sacrifice minor pleasures — Minor pleasures are hedonistic distractions that have short-term benefits that potentially could have serious consequences. Case in point is going out with friends to get drunk the night before a major college examination. Getting drunk the night before may result in flunking the exam. There will be other and more appropriate time to spend with friends.
Plan to enjoy – Short-term pleasures such as going to the movies, going to a spa or going to a picnic are not necessarily bad distractions. They can take away stress and help people re-focus. The important thing is that engaging in these short-term pleasures should not interfere with the more important things such as work. They should be properly scheduled and may be used as an incentive to accomplish important tasks for the week.
Take responsibilities – A person who has important obligations or responsibilities tend to be less susceptible to unimportant distractions. For example, a team leader in a project is less likely to be idle at work if he or she has subordinates who are dependent on him or her. Even ordinary employees can be responsible enough without necessarily becoming leaders or managers. Understanding the importance of the duties and responsibilities will help.
Once you can get in the habit of asking yourself if what you’re considering purchasing is a need or a want, you’ll begin to keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket.
As time has passed, there has been a greater need for everything to happen faster. The pace of the world has rapidly increased, and a lot of people no longer want to wait for things. In some cases, if someone wants something, they will want it now, and if they can’t have it now, then they might end up choosing something they can have straight away.
This might match up with what they want, or it could just satiate their needs for a short period. But while some things can be attained without too much time has passed, there are some things that one is going to have to wait for.