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Are You Able to Delay Gratification to Get What You Want Most?

Nov 12, 2021

We live in a society where, for many, delaying gratification has become more and more challenging to do. Are you old enough to remember when you had to go to the library, find books, and do research in order to get the answer to something? Perhaps you are old enough to remember back to when you bought a paper map and charted out your route when you were taking a road trip. How about when there were not microwaves to heat up food in minutes or even seconds? How about when you had to go to the store to buy albums instead of being able to download and instantly listen to anything at any time? How about when stores were not open on Sundays…or when online ordering was not a thing, never mind the one stop shopping with a one-to-two-day (or same day) delivery time!


Things certainly were different years ago, and while I am right there with you enjoying all the modern-day conveniences, I think our patience and ability to delay gratification may have decreased as a result of the increased accessibility of resources and information at the tip of our fingers. On the day I am writing this, I probably “googled” three to five things that allowed me to get information I needed instantly.  We are living in a time where we are used to getting and having what we want, when we want it. These conveniences help since many of us are busier than ever trying to juggle many things at one time, however, they also impact our ability to have patience and delay gratification for things that take time, regardless of modern-day conveniences.


Consider the question, “Am I doing what I want now or am I doing what I want most”. If you are trying to lose weight or be healthier, you may need to resist the temptation to eat something today, in order to get the health results you are wanting which could take months or more to achieve. You may also have to choose to not watch television (which is what you may want to do now), so that you have time to work out and get stronger, which will move you towards your health goals (which is what you want most). You may also need to not watch television, or go out each weekend, in order to spend the time necessary to build the business of your dreams, or to study for an important exam. You may need to put in extra work at your job, even if you would prefer to leave on time or not work on the weekend, to prove to your employer that you are deserving of a promotion.


There are countless examples of this idea of doing what you want now, versus doing what you want most. If you feel you tend to give into what you want now, versus what you want most, you can change this. To do this, I would suggest starting small. You first want to create the habit of delaying gratification and if you try to go all in at once, your brain will freak out on you. This will result in you doing the thing you want now, instead of the thing you want most. My steps for how to tackle this process are listed below.


Think about what it is you are wanting to do or achieve and write it down. Put it somewhere you will see it often such as a sticky note on a mirror or your computer, or as an alarm on your phone that goes off multiple times per day. Start with just one thing and you can build from there.


Next, consider what the possible obstacles are that could interfere with your plan to achieve what you want. What are the things that will pop up that will entice you to take an action that is not in alignment with what you are trying to achieve (the things you will want “now”)?


Create your plan for how you will manage these obstacles, instead of having them manage you. What will you tell yourself when they present themselves? What will you do to remove them, reduce them, or counter them? What will you do to remind yourself why the short-term gratification is not worth it? Ask yourself, “what is the worst thing that will happen if I don’t…” and “what is the best thing that will happen if I don’t…” Be as detailed as you can be when answering each of these questions.


The clearer you are about your current behavior patterns, the better prepared you can be for them when they come up so that you don’t fall victim to them. You can retrain your brain and it will not take as long as you may think. You just need to be consistent, remind yourself of what you want most, and take small actions that will move you in the right direction.

Live your best boss lady life.

 ~ Karen

Karen Vincent Solutions

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