Delayed gratification: are you too soft on yourself?
Written on the 28 April 2017
When was the last time you had to wait for something you really, really wanted? Not just your morning coffee, or your favourite tipple at the end of a long day something seriously important?
Now think, when was the last time you could have had something, but put it off? If you can't think of an answer to either, you're not alone. People in general just aren't that good at waiting for things any more. But it might be time to have a think about why that is; after all, blaming easy credit and same-day delivery only gets you so far.What the science says
Back in the '60s, researchers at Stanford University in the US ran a historical experiment, now nicknamed 'the marshmallow experiment'.i Psychologists tested the ability of children (aged 4 to 6) to delay gratification. They did this by offering them a treat immediately, but telling them that if they were able to wait 15 minutes, they could have two treats. The findings were revealing: only around a third of the children could wait for the second treat. When the researchers followed up with the parents several years later down the track, they found that the kids who'd managed to hold off had done better in life generally, including getting better grades.
Why waiting is good
Master your 'must-have-it-now' instincts
Removing yourself from the presence of whatever is tempting you off course is an obvious technique. However, depending on what you're avoiding, this can be tough; there is a reason why supermarket checkouts are stacked with little treats. This is where it's important to be self-aware. Recognise when you're particularly susceptible to make decisions you otherwise wouldn't, and avoid those circumstances where possible.Having trouble temporarily letting go of a few little pleasures so you can reach a financial goal? Remember, we're here to help.