Overcoming instant gratification to achieve bigger long term rewards

I don’t know about you but I’m not a lover of marshmallows and yet… it’s been proven by using marshmallows it can determine just how successful you’ll be in life.

In the late 1960’s Stanford (USA) psychologist Walter Mischel carried out an experiment on young pre-school children that demonstrated the significance of delayed gratification and it was known as ‘The Marshmallow Experiment’.

Search for ‘Marshmallow Experiment’ on You Tube, you’ll find the videos very entertaining.

These children were offered a marshmallow and offered another but only if they could wait 20 minutes before eating the first one. For children that is BIG BIG challenge.

Only about a third of our cute companions waited and earned their reward of a second marshmallow. The rest agonised and wrestled at the temptation before giving in :O

Decades later Mischel found the group of mini resistors to be much more successful in life than the marshmallow munchers.

Most of us want instant gratification instead of waiting and working towards the bigger and better rewards. I know, I’ve done it myself.

Unlike our young friends instead of focusing on the marshmallow (instant gratification) we need to focus on our end goal and the benefits it’ll bring us.

To help with long term focus, here are two questions I’ve periodically asked myself over the last decade or so that helped me stay focused on long term goals:

In five years time would I like to be exactly where I am now or to have achieved my goal?

When would now be a good time to start?

By the way, don’t be tempted to change a single word of question 2 it’s been written that way on purpose to include the word ‘now’.

With regards to question one you need to be as specific as possible so your wonderful subconscious mind knows exactly what you’re choosing to have and do and therefore help you.

An example would be:

In five years time, would I like to be where I am now, constantly feeling tired with ill fitting clothes, or enjoy my life to the full feeling energised and looking good?

Now, I’m not suggesting for one moment we don’t have treats along the way I’m just saying we need to stay focused on the end goal and the first step is being mindful of what we’re saying to ourselves and then changing any unhelpful thoughts to helpful ones. And that is easier DONE than SAID.

If you don’t believe me, then when would NOW be a good time to ask yourself my two questions?

Must dash, for some strange reason I seem to have developed a craving for marshmallows 😯

Want more resilience building insights, tools and inspiration?

You can read my blog posts as soon as they’re released by signing up to my twice monthly ‘Achievement Thinking Insights and Inspiration’ on the blue banner at at the bottom of this page.  Each one full of hints, tips, tools and inspiration to help you and your teams build resilience and manage high speed change, sign up now