In a world where literally everything we could want as consumers is at our fingertips, it’s difficult not to expect instant gratification.
At the touch of a button we immediately receive all sorts of things, including news, food, credit, entertainment and even friends!
But the problem with all of this ‘on demand’ availability is that we are evolving into a race that acts with expectation, rather than taking the time to nurture ourselves as responsible human beings.
What do I mean by this?
Well, it takes time to learn how to be a responsible, thinking adult who contributes meaningfully to the world around them, as opposed to someone who entertains their desire for immediate fulfillment irrespective of the consequences.
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Think about it
Wanting it all now is essentially what prevents us from ‘having it all’ at any point in time:
- Instant satisfaction of ‘hunger’ can keep us from a state of optimal health and contribute to weight issues;
- Instant satisfaction of our material desires means we waste money, often taking on expensive credit and ending up broke, rather than richer for all the work we do every day; and
- Leaving school for a job and earning money “now” rather than investing a few extra years learning a vocation or profession means you’ll always work for someone else and just earning a wage rather than a getting a handsome professional income.
Waiting is a valuable life lesson
Our modern day consumer lifestyle causes all sorts of conundrums when it comes to learning how to be patient, making it difficult for parents to teach the value of waiting to children in particular.
But it’s a life lesson that can significantly affect their chance to achieve long term and consistent health, happiness and yes, financial freedom.
In his book entitled Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman discusses a study involving a group of 4-year-old children who are told if they wait 15 minutes to eat a biscuit left next to them on a table, they will get two biscuits rather than one.
Tracking the progress of the children involved until they reached the age of 18 revealed that this test was a highly accurate predictor of their future success.
Who do you think went on to achieve more in life – the children who waited, or the ones who ate the biscuit immediately?
How do you learn patience?
While it takes time to change ingrained habits and the approaches to life that you’ve been taught since childhood, the good news is it’s entirely doable.
Start with small alterations to your thought patterns by acknowledging habits intended to provide immediate gratification.
These will often be around things like food and material purchases.
Re-program destructive, immediate gratification thought processes by turning the feeling of satisfaction around with undesirable consequences for impulsive actions.
For instance, you might decide that if you eat a half a block of chocolate to satisfy your craving in the moment, you have to walk for an hour to burn it off.
It won’t be an easy journey but you can re-program your gratification response and learn patience in many ways:
- Stop yourself in the moment and ask – do I really need this right now?
- Try saving up for something you really want, rather than being tempted to use that expensive credit card; and
- Exercise self-control and wait before getting up from the dinner table for that second helping.
These are just a few ideas but I’m sure when you start to think about your own internal dialogue around expectations of personal fulfillment, you’ll come up with many more ways to win out by waiting.
Remember, if it comes too quickly, chances are you will lose it again just as readily. All good things take time.
As Warren Buffet wisely said: “Wealth is the transfer of money from the inpatient to the patient.”
Michael Yardney is a director of Metropole Property Strategists, which creates wealth for its clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He is a best-selling author, one of Australia’s leading experts in wealth creation through property and writes the Property Update blog.