I want it now! That’s something that we expect children to say, yet you probably say it often too. The temptation to get what we want when we want is high, and because we have easier access to things than ever before, it’s easy to get what we want now. But, what if what we want interferes with what we could have? What if we could have something greater if we didn’t have that thing we want right now? For instance, instead of buying a huge dinner right now, what if we put that money in a jar with more money in the future and bought ourselves a new computer that helps us connect to the world, earn money, and do a million other things on it? The process of giving up what we want now for something that we want later is called delayed gratification. And it can be a huge benefit to our lives.
5 Reasons To Practice Delayed Gratification
1. You Have An Easier Time Going After The Life You Want
To me, this is the biggest reason. Many people think that saying yes at the moment is a sign of being lively, fun, and assertive. But, truly it’s a sign of not being able to hold off on something in the moment so that you can get something you really want later on – a sign of weakness.
For instance, let’s say you know what you want in life with complete clarity, including a healthy strong body that allows you to do accomplish many other of your life’s visions. Delayed gratification will be a huge tool to help you reach the vision you lay out for yourself. It will help you make better choices when faced with unexpected decisions and tempting offers that will derail your progress towards your health goals. It will allow you to say no to the Doritos and lazy night when you really want to get out and eat a healthy meal and go for a hike.
Practicing delayed gratification will help you reach any goal you set out for yourself as you will avoid things that don’t help you move towards those goals (but may feel good at the time) and stay on track with what will work.
In fact, delayed gratification helps you achieve your goals faster because you cut out the unnecessary stuff and focus on what needs to be done to help you reach your goals.
Marisa Peer, the creator of Uncompromised Life, says that super achievers have no problem with delayed gratification. They know that skipping those temptations will make them far happier in the long run.
2. You Avoid Making Some Big Mistakes
Let’s say you hate your job and the best and most rewarding option at the moment seems to be to tell your boss to shove it up his ass and then quit on the spot. That may make you feel good at the moment, but when you get home and your car breaks down, you remember that you haven’t paid your phone bill, and you realize that you were supposed to travel to your best friend’s wedding later this year, you may regret choosing to do what feels good in the moment.
A better decision would be to delay that gratification that comes from quitting and telling your boss to shove it and, instead, look for a job so that you can continue making money after you quit your current job.
3. You Feel More In Control Of Your Life
Do other people rule your life or do you rule your life? You may think you do, but if you are constantly giving in to temptations, then other people may have more of a hold on your life than you know.
The other day, I was listening to a talk about Jon Butcher, the creator of Lifebook, and he was mentioning that business people are always working on ways for you to buy or use their products. That’s their main focus. They are trying to get you to do what they want you to do rather than what you want to do, and if you are not capable of delaying gratification, then a lot of those people are going to pull you into their sales pitches and temptations and control what happens to you now and, as a consequence, later.
So, if you have an addiction, and you are constantly being bombarded with messages about why you should continue your addiction, delayed gratification can help. You can start to choose to avoid the immediate pleasure – that cigarette, alcohol, gambling expedition, or food that the companies want you to choose.
4. You Have More Productive Days
When it comes to being productive, delayed gratification is essential.
For instance, I love watching YouTube videos. I’m constantly being pulled towards them while I’m working because I work online and know that with a quick click I can check in on my favorite YouTubers and see what they are doing. But, I need to practice delayed gratification or I will spend hours upon hours on YouTube. And by the time I’m done, I will be too tired to do the actual work that I need to do. This was a habit for a long time. I wanted to see what was happening NOW on YouTube and it cost me many days of being productive. Now, I practice getting done everything on my to-do list that corresponds to my goals and life vision, and THEN, if I have time, I will watch YouTube.
What do you do when you should be doing something more important? That would be something to practice delayed gratification on!
5. Character Traits Improve And You Become More Likeable
When you get used to delayed gratification, you are able to develop those character traits that people love.
You can be more generous because you are willing to help other people before you help yourself.
You can be kinder because you will be less focused on yourself and what you want at the moment and more focused on what is happening around you.
Self-control, loyalty, integrity, patience, and many more admired character traits will be developed as you work on delaying the attitude of ‘I want it now’ and ‘I’m having/getting/doing it now.’
Challenge Yourself To Practice Delayed Gratification For One Month
For one month, make delayed gratification a big part of your life. Make it an experiment and write down what happens when you stop acting on impulse and start saying no to things that may not benefit you in the long run.
Get Clear On Your Life Vision
I highly recommend you get clear on your life vision before you take on this challenge. I think that if you don’t, you won’t be able to practice delayed gratification because you won’t really understand deep down inside why you are delaying something that you seemingly want.
After taking Lifebook, I knew what I wanted and why I wanted it. There was a purpose and a vision that I couldn’t ignore in every area of my life, and the reward of reaching those visions was much stronger than the reward of having something at the moment just because it felt good.
When you get clear on the life you want, it becomes easier to practice delayed gratification because the vision you have in your head of why you should practice it is very clear and exciting.
Create A To Do List
I would also recommend planning out your days according to your life vision. This will help you see what you need to do and why, and it will give you a clearer reason to say no to something that is going to feel good at the moment but ruin the plans you have for later.
Practice Pausing And Reflecting
Any time you are faced with a decision to do something right now that will interfere with what you want, who you want to be, or something else in any way, pause and reflect on what you really want.
For instance, if you are at a party and you have a test the next morning, you probably have planned not to drink so that you can be at your best for the test. But, you may be tempted to drink as many shots as everyone else. People may be handing you drinks left and right. And they may be frustrated that you are not drinking. You need to stop and think about what will have a bigger impact on your life. Drinking right now and partying with your friends may feel good, but doing well on that test could help you graduate and go on to the career you want to have, which could help you make enough money to have big parties on nights where you don’t have a test the next day.
In every moment, try to view things in the long term. Think about how getting what you want right now could impact something you want later on.