Most people want to be rich. They want to be able to buy anything they want and travel anywhere they want. But are they ready to delay gratification to achieve their dreams?
I left my previous job last year — February 2016. I got tired of the corporate world. I wanted to explore and discover new parts of myself. It was an interesting journey.
I worked from home for ten months. It was heaven. I didn’t have to makeup every day. I enjoyed cooking healthy meals at home. I didn’t have to eat staff canteen food which was usually filled with unhealthy options.
In January 2017, I decided to go back to the corporate world. The money I was earning was not enough to pay my bills. Immediately, I resumed in my new company, I remembered why I had left in the first place.
The Pressure To Conform
When you have a day job and you need to go to the office every day, it weighs heavily on your income. If I didn’t change my hairdo after three weeks, my colleagues would ask me if everything was okay and if I needed money.
It was unheard of to keep the same hairdo for more than three weeks. I was under constant pressure to conform. The pressure also included having the perfect outfits and makeup. Like Tyler Durden said, “we buy things to impress people we don’t like”.
When I wasn’t in the corporate world, it was easy to not think of doing my hair. I could look any way I wanted. I only made an effort if I needed to go out. I also didn’t have to think of buying new outfits.
Are you going through your day job acquiring things without thinking of your future? Are you piling up belongings without any plan on how to achieve your dreams?
Success does not belong to people who don’t know how to delay gratification. It belongs to people who discipline themselves to achieve their dreams.
If your money does not have a purpose, it flies away.
I want lovely things. I want Chanel bags and Luis Vuitton shoes. But I also understand I have a higher purpose and calling and I need to focus on that.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having shiny things. You need to know if that’s what you truly need right now.
In his book Unshakeable, Tony Robbins said, ‘start saving money every month in your early twenties or younger’. You need to start now and plan not only towards investments but also towards your purpose.
If you are not saving and investing towards your dreams, then there’s no point in slaving away at your day job.
Are you investing in your education?
Are you investing in your future?
Are you investing in your dreams?
The Beauty of Delayed Gratification
What do you want in your life?
Is it a beautiful house, flashy cars, a big house and stunning outfits? Or is it a life of fulfillment and indescribable joy?
The truth is you can have both but not necessarily at the same time. You might have to forgo one for the other. Delay the gratification of one option to have the other option tomorrow.
I love the Stanford Marshmallow experiment. It reminds me of why we need to delay gratification.
In the 1960s, a Stanford professor named Walter Mischel conducted an experiment with a team of researchers. The experiment involved a group of children between the ages of 4 and 5 years old. This experiment is known as the Marshmallow experiment.
A researcher placed a marshmallow on the table in front of each child. He offered the child a deal. If he didn’t eat the marshmallow while the researcher was away, he would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. But if he ate the marshmallow before the researcher came back, he would not be rewarded with a second one.
Some kids ate the first marshmallow immediately the researcher left the room. Some tried to wait a bit, but gave into temptation a few minutes later and ate the marshmallow. The kids who didn’t eat the marshmallow were rewarded with a second marshmallow.
Walter Mischel and his team of researchers studied the children in the experiment for five decades. The children who waited patiently for a second marshmallow became more successful later in life than the children who didn’t.
This proved that the ability to delay gratification is a critical factor for success.
Here are a few ways you can delay gratification.
Visualize the end in mind
Stephen Covey said, “begin with the end clearly in mind”. If you have the end clearly in your mind, it’s easier to delay gratification. When I reviewed my goals, I realized why I couldn’t spend money the way my colleagues did.
In a day job, if you don’t know what you want, you can become distracted by the shiny things your colleagues have.
Having the end in mind helps you delay gratification.
Set your fears instead of your goals
In his Ted Talk ‘Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals’, Tim Ferriss explained why we should set our fears instead of our goals. In setting your fears, you determine the cost of inaction. If you don’t achieve your dreams, how would you feel? What would your life be like in 6 months, 1 year or 3 years if you stay the same?
Walter Mischel also used this technique to overcome his smoking habit. He had struggled with this habit for many years. This seemed strange considering his successful Marshmallow experiment.
One day, he saw a man with metastasized lung cancer in the halls of Stanford’s medical school. The man’s head was shaved and his chest exposed. He had little green “x” marks all over his body which marked the points where the radiation would go. From that day, whenever Walter would want to smoke a cigarette, he would remember the man. This image cured him completely of his smoking habit.
Setting your fears helps you delay gratification.
Improve every day by 1 percent
When you decide to delay gratification completely, it might seem like a huge culture shock to you. But if you do it gradually, you will adjust to this new lifestyle.
For example, if you buy two new outfits every month with a pair of shoes. Let go of the shoes in the first month then one outfit in the second month. You will realize you can do without buying new things.
Cutting down drastically on spending habits is not an easy decision to make. For some people, they can cut down immediately. For others, it would take a while.
No matter what it takes, make sure you spend wisely and save/invest towards your dreams.
We have dreams we want to achieve. But are we ready to deny ourselves of instant gratification to get what we truly want?
Jerzy Gregorek, a 4-time world champion Olympic weightlifter said, “easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life”.
The harder the choices we make, the easier our lives will eventually become.
What do you splurge on or can’t get enough of? How will you delay gratification today so you can achieve your dreams? Feel free to leave a comment below.
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