It seems nowadays we are at an all-time high of instant gratification. We are so obsessed with getting things now that we don’t sit back to think about long-term gains. This is particularly evident in our culture today where we have access to get things fast.
So what is instant gratification?
Instant gratification is the desire to experience pleasure or fulfillment without delay or deferment.
There’s amazon prime shipping, next-day delivery, quick access to information, and all those things that are accessible to us immediately. We are easily distracted and can’t concentrate on things for extended periods of time. This is especially true in my life where I’ve chosen the fast and easy way out. Instead of thinking long-term, I chose short-term pleasures.
It’s why we’d eat junk food every day because it feels good now instead of thinking of the long-term health benefits of eating healthy.
I think this especially affects our growth as people because we all have dreams right? We all aspire to be something someday and those dreams require work, a lot of work to become true. But the problem is, we don’t see that progress immediately. It takes weeks, months, and maybe even years to start seeing the product of our hard work required to make those dreams come true and we aren’t ready for that. It’s easier to continue doing what is already working because we see the end products immediately.
Another area Instant gratification really affects is money. Because we have access to anything we want online, it is hard not to splurge on shopping and buying stuff for ourselves. Things that we might not even need.
There have been numerous times that I’ve been window shopping online and just randomly add things to my cart. At that point in time, the need to make those purchases is there and it seems like nothing else makes sense there and then. But almost 95% of the time, when I leave those items in my cart and come back the next day, I find out that I don’t need any of those things. One major blowback of this is that it’s hard to save up any amount of money. Many of the people I’ve met don’t see the point in saving when the money ultimately would still be spent on something. So why save and torture yourself when you can just buy what you want now and be done with it.
Tips on how to deal with instant gratification
So, I would like to share some methods and techniques that I’ve been trying to incorporate to delay gratification and get the hard but important stuff done when it’s due.
1 — Understand the main problem
When it comes to instant gratification, almost everything is against us. From social media adverts to dopamine rushes to lack of self-control. Understanding this allows us to nip it in the bud and fight it actively.
Increase the friction between yourself and things that provide instant gratification. Set a strict limit on how much you can spend monthly on non-essentials, hide your credit/debit card and generally ensure you are taking active steps to prevent yourself from falling into the instant gratification trap.
2 — Create a plan
We fall for the trap of instant gratification because we don’t have a definite plan for our time, money, health, etc.
When I found out that I wasn’t getting anything done and time was just wasting away, I decided to create a plan for myself. I listed out what I had to do. Then I put a timeline on when I wanted those things to be done, a realistic timeline if I might add, then I just broke it down to what I needed to do every day to achieve those plans. It’s easy to become sidetracked when you don’t have a plan for anything you want to do. And this plan keeps you motivated and in check.
3 — Set aside time for instant gratification
I don’t really believe in going cold turkey, at least not for me because I always slip back into bad habits so I always believe in going one step at a time. What I did for myself was to set rules about instant gratification.
Set out time/periods where you can indulge in those things that you like (with some restraint of course). Have time for watching TV, scrolling social media, and some funds to treat yourself nice!
4 — Look at the bigger picture
Take a hard look at yourself and the choices you’re making today and see if they are taking you closer or farther away from where you want to go. For example, instead of putting off studying, think and realize that you might fail if you don’t do it now. Instead of spending your entire salary every month, think of how much better off you’ll be if you just start saving and investing a bit of your salary every month.
I think we should start looking at things by adding this consideration to every choice we make — will doing this, give me more satisfaction now and leave me empty later or vice-versa.
I think looking at it that way is a great way to put things in perspective because it is very easy to lose sight of what really matters.
The main point is for us to realize that great things take time, albeit relationships, success, growth, and we should be willing to sit through the process of achieving something, rather than focus on the end goal itself. Because ultimately, it is those sacrifices and those choices that you make today that transform us into who we dream of becoming.