Growing up in our culture today means having to deal with innumerable distractions. We live in a society where we want everything and we want it now. This attitude is learned from a young age and it is difficult to change as we grow older.
Delayed gratification, or the ability to pass up short-term gains for long-term rewards, has a direct impact on our success in school and work. The earlier you learn this skill the better off you will be. If you find it difficult to turn off your urge for immediate gratification, don’t fret, it is never too late to learn. Here are some tips that can help you.
Try to develop a set of clear priorities for yourself, such as school comes before entertainment, family before friends, etc. If you know your priorities, it is much easier to work hard and resist the easy route.
Know Your Values
In order to be able to delay immediate gratification you need to know what is important to you. What do you value most? Discipline? Hard work? Reliability?
Create a Plan
Having a plan of how to achieve your long-term goals makes it easier to resists the urge of immediate satisfaction. In your plan, be as detailed as possible about your expected outcomes and what you need to do to get there. Do not try to accomplish everything at once. Start by breaking up your long-term goals into bite-size pieces. What do you need to accomplish today, this week, this month? Consistent completion of short-term tasks is the key to long-term success.
Studies show that self-control skills in students are deeply rooted but are also malleable. Those who want to improve their ability to delay gratification do so by practice every day.
Write it Down
Say you find yourself working diligently on your homework and you remember that you need to send an email to a friend. Are you the type who would drop everything and write the email, or are you the type who would make a note to send the email later and continue finishing your homework? Wherever you fit in, try to strive for the habit of the latter. This habit of staying on task and writing to-do lists is important and will help you complete work faster, providing more time for fun later.
It is difficult to focus on long-term goals if you do not experience rewards. Make sure to reward yourself after an arduous week at school. The more often you practice delayed gratification, the sweeter the gratification becomes later and the more possibilities unfold in your life. Delayed gratification brings the realization of bigger dreams, but it requires discipline. If you were not born with these traits, work to develop them through practice and persistence.