Practicing Delayed Gratification

fulfillment patience success Feb 01, 2023

When meeting our long-term goals, practicing delayed gratification is essential. So often, we want the benefits without having to put in the work, which isn't how it works. If you want to see actual results, you must be willing to delay gratification and put in the hard work. This blog post will discuss delayed gratification and how you can practice it today.

How delaying gratification can help you.

Delayed gratification is holding off doing or obtaining something to attain a more significant reward later, which can involve more hard work and patience. The practice traces its roots to the famous marshmallow experiment by Walter Mischel, where children got tested to see if they would eat the marshmallow or not after the researchers told them they could receive a reward later if they could hold off eating the marshmallow. The researchers tested the children with varying circumstances to see how delayed gratification works, and the marshmallow test returned significant results.

Delayed gratification is the opposite of instant gratification, which works by pursuing an immediate reward in the short term to attain instant happiness and fulfillment. But, unfortunately, the pursuit of instant gratification is pretty evident in our society nowadays, as there seems to be a push to gain immediate pleasure by doing quick and easy ways of obtaining success and the presence of many things that want to grab our attention. However, suppose you want to pursue a long-term reward and know the value of accomplishing goals. In that case, it will be better to resist temptation from short-term fulfillment and happiness and instead focus on your ability to delay gratification to attain something bigger and more rewarding later. There are various benefits when one indulges in self-control and practices delayed gratification.

  • Delayed gratification is necessary when you want to hit your long-term goals. These goals take a long time to accomplish but usually give gratifying and highly-satisfactory rewards. So when you delay gratification, you are setting yourself up for success which can be very fulfilling.
  • You build discipline and self-control along the way as you hold off on immediate gratification and focus on what you can obtain later, which is much more rewarding. The values you build can also apply to other areas of life, allowing you to take the right actions and have the proper mindset when working on things.
  • You can save more money and be healthier when you practice delayed gratification. In addition, you will be able to control yourself from making impulse purchases and avoid making rush decisions that are not part of your plan for long-term success. Your overall health will improve since you will try your best to avoid actions and decisions that can affect your health negatively and focus more on those that can bring positive results, which can take time to achieve.
  • Patience is strongly associated with delayed gratification, so you will automatically learn it as you engage in impulse control and develop delayed gratification. Being patient will help you be more tolerant of problems and failures, and you can wait before you achieve the success you are aiming for with your goals. When you are patient, things don't have to happen quickly.

How to practice delayed gratification

There are various techniques one can utilize to develop delayed gratification. Some of us might have difficulties learning it due to the tendency to seek immediate rewards, and some may be more impatient than others. Still, the good thing is that anybody can know delayed gratification, and it can become a new habit through regular practice and mindfulness toward what you want to achieve by doing it. Here are some of the things you can do to develop it.

Identify what you want to achieve and recognize its value. Knowing your "why" when holding off on something and chasing after something more valuable later down the line is essential. Otherwise, you may fail to postpone pleasure when you don't know what bigger reward you are pursuing and what it will do for you once you get it. So take your time to think about the long-term effects and value you can gain by following something long-term. Then, when you do, you can always think about this big goal or reward of yours and use it as motivation to resist immediate desires, knowing you can gain something better much later.

Develop trust and optimism. The future is very uncertain but can also be rewarding. It would be best if you believed that things would work out and that good things could happen with your actions and decisions. Otherwise, you may find it hard to delay gratification if you don't trust good things will happen in the future.

Start with small goals, and reward yourself for achieving such actions. The road toward your big goal can be full of challenges that require hard work and patience. If you are betting on feeling fulfilled and happy only when you achieve your great goal, it can be challenging to wait for months or even years before you attain such a state. It can be better to start focusing on small goals, achievable within the day or a week. Then, also learn to reward yourself for accomplishing small goals. This practice will help keep you motivated while you are still on your way to hitting your big goal.

Think about the consequences. Many people will most likely seek pleasure and work on something they can get now instead of waiting and working for long-term rewards. However, taking the easy road and indulging in various things now may have severe consequences later. For example, eating delicious but unhealthy foods can affect your health; not exercising and leading a sedentary lifestyle can also do the same. Another example is spending money to buy all sorts of things instead of saving money so you can buy more rewarding things later, set up a business, or invest in securing yourself more financially later. Thinking about negative consequences to your well-being can help you delay things and wait longer to obtain gratifying things that can benefit you later eventually.

It can be challenging to delay gratification, but it is worth it.

Most of the time, the things that take a long time to achieve are gratifying and benefit us the most. For example, maintaining a good state of health that will let us live longer and have more opportunities to do things will only happen if we take good care of our bodies and become mindful of what we eat. Likewise, a promising career will only come if we work hard and avoid indulging in instant pleasures too often. You can only buy your dream house or car if you become wiser with your money and manage your finances now instead of keeping on buying things. It can be challenging to resist temptation when working for something in the long run, discouraging many people and making them opt for instant gratification. Discipline, hard work, patience, and the belief that the future can bring good things to you are all necessary in holding off on something so that you can reap bigger rewards later.

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