At any moment you could tell your boss to take a flying leap, book a cruise, and eat only junk food, but you don’t. Do you know why? At some level you understand that there is value in delayed gratification. Delayed gratification is simply saying “no” in the moment when something greater will happen in time. It is putting off pleasure for this minute because down the road there could be consequences. You can use delayed gratification to improve self-control in order to become more productive. This is explained below.
Delayed gratification is defined in the dictionary as “the act of resisting an impulse for an immediate reward in hopes of obtaining a more valued reward some time in the future. To fully this definition, we need to break it down. First, delayed gratification requires resisting an immediate urge and second, requires us to have reason to believe we will gain if we do.
If a situation arises that only meets one of these qualifications do not call for delayed gratification. There would be no reason to delay gratification when safety is an issue or there is no danger in having that gratification. Research suggests that those who practice delayed gratification benefit in many ways. In one study, it was found those who could delay gratification when they were young grew up to fare better in life. That is the power delayed gratification holds. Adults who can delay gratification are also better able to achieve what they want out of life. You must learn to think through the consequences of choices and control impulses for a happier, healthier life.
Delayed gratification is the perfect way to optimize productivity. Convince yourself to do a bit of extra work now for a better outcome later on in life. This takes a few basic steps in life, which are shared below.
Know Your Goals
You must have a reason to delay gratification or you will struggle to ever do it. Think through what you wish to achieve in each area so you can get there. Some suggested areas are given below:
- Personal – Perhaps you want to run a marathon, but if you do, then sitting on your couch will not help. Train for it and delay gratification for when you cross the finish line.
- Financial – Owning a home means lots of saving money. TO do this, you may have to give up on a movie or a vacation on occasion to save, but you are delaying gratification for when you own a home.
- Professional – No one will offer your dream job without you proving your worth. Spending time getting trained, practicing, and updating your resume are delayed gratification when free time would offer instant bliss.
- Social – Friendships are not immediate. If you want deeper friendships, then you must invest time. Delayed gratification is connecting with someone in person, over time, instead of just enjoying the superficial things you have.
- Emotional – When frustrations with loved ones are running high, it is easy to snap, but out of love you delay the gratification you get from doing so and offer patience.
- Spiritual – The big life questions only get answered with study and self-reflection. Though this can be difficult, you will be happier if you delay gratification and do the work.
What If Scenarios
The best decisions can be made when you look to the future. One way to help make decisions is the use of a decision tree, so you can visualize the effects of each possible choice. This can be used for nearly every decision. Delayed gratification often leads to saving time and money in the long run.
Delayed gratification is most important when a job needs complete. It may be more fun to watch a show or play on Facebook, but you cannot afford to waste the work day. While technology can get in the way, it can also serve to keep you on task. If necessary, block apps or set time limits to keep your access limited during work hours. This makes you more productive and allow for more enjoyment later.
If married or in a relationship in which you share finances, use the partnership to your benefit with delayed gratification. Set ground rules on the expenses that are concerning and decide when purchases can be made. If either of you slip up, there should be consequences that your partner holds you accountable for overall. Accountability partners can be found in every area of life, be it church, work, or at home.
Delayed gratification inherently has some benefits because the hard work is done upfront. If you struggle with delayed gratification, make it a bit easier by rewarding yourself when you are successful. These are not time consuming or expensive rewards, but some that allow you to appreciate yourself for successfully working hard.
Delayed gratification is never meant to get in the way of self-care. Small treats on occasion can help you stay on track. Mastering this is difficult, but it is possible. Use these tips to put temptation aside and become happier, productive, and healthier.