Delayed gratification & achieving your goals
Nowadays, a lot of us look for instant results in all that we do. If something doesn't provide immediate satisfaction or reward, we often get demotivated or frustrated and move onto the next thing. I'm definitely guilty of attending one gym class in the past and expecting to look toned the next day 🙈
While it would be great if self-improvement worked the same way as Amazon Prime and we could pay for next day delivery, it doesn't, and it's in our own interest to master that strength to delay gratification.
One marshmallow now, or more later?
This is not a new concept. You might have heard about the marshmallow study conducted back in the 60s where children were left in a room with one marshmallow and told that if they wait 15 minutes, they would get a second marshmallow. The researchers found that delaying gratification had long-term benefits on the kids who were able to resist the first temptation, and waited for the bigger prize.
Instant gratification vs Long-term goals
Since I've decided to quit a secure office job and start my own business as a yoga teacher, delaying gratification has become an everyday practice.
When you start out, you spend hours doing marketing, branding, and other things you don't really have a clue about, and NO ONE pays you for your work. There is no initial reward for your effort and hard work and you often find yourself questioning why you're even doing it!?
I am sure all entrepreneurs and business people would agree.
Now my biggest rewards for this work are the small things. The thank yous, the feedback, the smiles, the times when students say a particular exercise helped them with a problem they had, the proud faces when they manage to master a more advanced posture, or when I hear that something I wrote resonates with you 💜 And of course, I'm happy I get to pay my bills whilst doing what I like, but the above always bring more satisfaction than the financial gains.
A muscle that needs to be trained
But despite the rewards, my brain still tricks me on an everyday basis. That little monster inside my head still makes me question why am I doing this? Why not just get a normal job, have a secure income, paid annual leave and free evenings? Why am I sitting here on my weekend writing this blog if I have no guarantee someone will read it? Why do I spend so long crafting my sequences if sometimes only a few people turn up to the classes?
If you ever tried achieving a long term goal, like starting up your business or losing weight, you might be able to identify with this. Or maybe you've been trying to live a healthier life and attend regular yoga or fitness classes? Do you find yourself struggling to give up instant pleasure and satisfaction to achieve what you really want?
All that little monster in our heads wants is for us to give in and turn to something instantly gratifying. I could have had this blog written up 3 days ago when I initially sat down to do it. Instead, I chose to watch a show on Netflix. Then I ate some cake at the next attempt and followed it up with a long aimless session of scrolling through Facebook 😩 That time the little monster won. But not today.
Mastering that strength is difficult, but not impossible. We all have those achievements we are proud of. Things that we know we worked hard on and persevered even when it was hard. We just need to work on that muscle.
Every. Damn. Day.
You have to find ways to help yourself
The two main things I find helpful are yoga and intermittent fasting (but that's a whole other topic I might write about one day!)
Achieving the fitness, flexibility and strength level required to perform certain postures in yoga is a product of patience.
My daily practice, when it comes to being able to perform these asanas, is not an instantly gratifying activity.
I do not step onto my mat in the morning wanting to perform an unassisted handstand and manage to do it 60 minutes later. It takes days, weeks, months.
But I keep showing up, I keep trying, I keep falling (sometimes, literally flat on my face 🤕). But I also keep getting back up and trying again. And just that process of coming back to it, even when there are easier and more pleasant, pain-free things to do trains my mind to delay gratification, which I then translate to other areas of my life.
The same thing happens when I restrict myself to eat within an 8 hour period and fast for the other 16 hours of the day. A bonus: when you allow your body to digest all the food and become empty again, the food genuinely does taste a lot better, too!
Those two things combined work for me and help me to cultivate the patience for the results in my business, or the patience for any other of my dreams to come to life.
Reflect back on your life.
What are your goals?
Would the practice of delaying gratification help you to achieve them?
What can you do to train that muscle within your mind?
"Do something today that your future self will thank you for."
May you have a good week of self-discipline in delaying gratification friends.