Do you remember your first paycheck or the first time you got money as a birthday gift?
The adrenaline rush sent your mind in a hundred different directions with ideas of how to spend it. How about the time
you wanted to buy that not-so-new truck? Sure, it had a few dents and scratches and the tail lights didn’t work. Neither did the heater. But those could be fixed, right? The thrill of driving through town in your very own truck sounded so exciting. But your folks burst your bubble and told you absolutely not! A better vehicle in your budget would come along. Just be patient. But, being patient was so hard!
Have you ever had a friend who was so obsessed with getting married that they grabbed on to the nearest person, no matter how ill-suited? The fantasy of a destination wedding or a mountaintop ceremony in the Rockies sounded so romantic. Not to mention all the attention, money, and gifts. Waiting for the “Right One” seemed unbearable, even though you knew this one was not the right one.
Or what about when you were a teenager, and you were hungry but you knew that your family was waiting to start dinner until you got home. Just a quick drive-thru at Taco Temptations should tide you over till you get home and can join your family for a real dinner. You’d still be hungry enough. Or not.
Instant Gratification and its Consequences
These types of temptations happen to all of us. Maybe not quite as dramatic as marrying for the wrong reasons, but difficult to deal with just the same. We call it instant gratification when we want something so badly that we think we can’t possibly wait . The problem with instant gratification is we often have regrets later on.
That first paycheck didn’t last very long. You only went out with friends a couple of times and you wanted to impress them so you picked up the tab. Spending your birthday money on candy and video games left you broke when your friends all went to the theater to watch the newest hero movie. Of course it is fine to enjoy the money you have—especially if you earned it yourself. But a little self control can allow you to be ready when better things come along in the future.
The flip side of the instant gratification coin is delayed gratification. This means resisting the impulse to indulge in an immediate reward in with the expectation that a better opportunity will come up in the future. Delay means wait, and people don’t always want to wait. In The Tuttle Twins and the Messed Up Market, Mrs. Tuttle and Nana discuss the concept of delayed gratification with Ethan and Emily. They see how this can increase their success in their future ventures.
Delayed Gratification as a Path to Success
Delayed gratification is essential to the development of our self-control. This is a crucial attribute in life. It can help us achieve our long term goals and not get distracted by temptations along our way. It often leads to better rewards in the future. Practicing delayed gratification when you are used to giving in to instant gratification can be challenging work.
Start with small goals like cutting out an unhealthy habit, such as eating candy while watching tv. Maybe you can eat some popcorn instead, or some fresh veggies with ranch dip. Gradually work toward larger goals such as saving a portion of your money and earmarking it for something that will take you a long time to save for. As you become better at resisting the desire for short-term satisfaction, you will build on your ability to set and keep goals. This will lead to confidence in your decision making for the future! You’ll start to trust yourself to take care of future-you instead of just pleasing today-you.
As you become successful in putting off the temptation for short term pleasure or satisfaction and focus on long term success, your ability to excel in other areas will likely increase as well. When we become proficient in our practice of delayed gratification, our self-confidence increases, and our desire to help others increases because we feel good about ourselves. We no longer have insecurities or jealousies that cause us to treat others poorly.
When trying to make a choice, ask yourself if the short-term gratification will have a long-term desired outcome. Long term, delayed gratification often has a rewarding outcome in the real world, while instant gratification often leads to disappointment once the excitement of the “new” has worn off.
Making some sacrifices today in favor of better things in the future is the mark of a mature and responsible person. The sooner we start thinking of our long-term happiness the more likely we are to make good choices along the way. It’s never too early to start teaching your kids about the lifelong benefits of diligent work and delayed gratification.
Read The Tuttle Twins and the Messed up Market with your kids today, and start building a foundation that will serve them well their whole lives!