At any given situation in life, we are always presented with choices. Life consists in making one decision after the next. Be it about what we are going to choose for lunch, what we are going to do with our free time or wether we are going to stop at the petrol station to get a chocolate bar on the way home.
Humans have the tendency to choose what makes them feel good in the moment. It's part of our survival instinct. It can, however, turn into a challenge - specially if you are an entrepreneur whose goals aren't very clear. Choosing the easy and more pleasurable work over stepping out of your comfort zone can become a limiting habit.
While pleasure is crucial to our survival, spending a considerable amount of time and money pursuing it, can be detrimental to our long-term plans and success. Whether you are running a business, learning a new skill or planing to purchase your first house, delaying gratification can be just what makes it possible for you to keep persisting. Having patience takes adjustment – specially in a society that is always demanding immediate response.
Our ability to choose certain things over others is a key trait for success. But why is it that some people seem to be able to make consistent and constructive choices, while others continually choose feel-good options that don't actually support their growth or goal?
Truth is, there are a lot of different factors that trigger certain behaviors. And while justifying them may be a task for Psychology professionals, one thing is clear: Our mind is a trainable thing.
It all comes down to mindset. The way we think determines our willingness todelay gratification and tolerate hard work, discipline, and occasional unpleasantness in order to fulfill responsibilities and achieve our dreams.
Mastering self-control can be a painful process, specially if we are trying to break habits but, a life spent avoiding pain doesn’t result in goals getting accomplished. It might be an easier life in the short term, but it won’t necessarily be a better life later on.
It is very important to reflect on our attitude towards our daily choices and take a good look if we are sabotaging our success by going for whatever is easy rather than what will contribute to the life we want to live.
Start by asking yourself:
Do you make decisions based on your life purpose or on what feels good in the moment? Do you tend to give up too soon when faced with challenges?
The tolerance we demonstrate when waiting for something we want says a lot about our ability to take aligned action. Like I said, delaying gratification is one of the most important characteristics of successful people.
And you can learn it. Keep it simple and start by getting to know yourself.
Think about your values
Make a firm decision on what really matters to you. Once you are clear on what is important, see if your daily actions are in alignment.
This may seem so obvious but when we actually stop to reflect, we stimulate our brain to ponder and perhaps to start choosing actions that reflect the life we want to live.
Be clear on your goal
What is it that you want to achieve exactly? A healthier body? More clients? Saving money to buy your first house? Whatever it is for you, having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve longer-term can help you make a choice in delaying gratification to help you reach your ultimate goal.
Make a plan
When you understand your values and know what you want to achieve, drawing a strategy to help you get there can remind you of the choices you need to make along the way and reinforce the process of delaying gratification. Without a clear plan, we may keep going back and forth inconsistently, resulting in making choices that don't take us where we want to go.
Celebrate your wins
Delaying gratification can be hard-work. Depending on what you want to achieve, it may take weeks, months, years, and sometimes even decades. Breaking down your goals and rewarding yourself along the way can remind you that delaying gratification is leading you to where you want to go and that each little achievement counts on the road to success.
On the path to developing new habits, remember to surround yourself with people who inspire you and support you. And if that isn't possible, surround yourself with books that assist you in shifting your mindset. It will take adjusting, practice, patience. Again and againuntil it’s merely a matter of habit - a healthy one.