Delayed Gratification

09 Jun 2014

I would really like to have an iPad. In fact, I’ve thought about this quite a lot in recent weeks and spent a fair amount of time researching the models and scouring the Internet for the best prices.

But do I really need one? And is it a priority?

Of course I could use one, and my lizard (animalistic) brain is successfully justifying my “need” for one. But the more developed parts of my brain (and character) are trying to overrule the impulse.

Sometimes we need to choose to wait– delay the gratification. 

In the 1960s, psychologists at Stanford University conducted a study in delayed gratification. They gave children a cookie. The kids were then told if they did not eat the cookie when left alone, they would get two cookies. Predictably, most ate the cookie and only few got the second.

In tracking these children, researchers found those who were able to resist the temptation to eat the cookie immediately did better in school and were more successful in life. Delayed gratification seems to be a key for success.

Self-control is not easy. We are naturally selfish and impulsive. And we are constantly bombarded with marketing campaigns trying to convince us to buy buy buy, eat eat eat, and consume consume consume!

Poverty is a complex issue. It’s not a lack of things, but a lack of life skills.

Certainly many people in the world live in places where systems keep them down. Others choose to live self-sacrificially to invest in others.

But a very huge contributing factor to poverty is a lack of self-control. People live paycheck-to-paycheck because they spend money as soon as they get it. Many are unable to think long-term; they give in to immediate gratification. They can’t pay the rent, but they got a new tattoo, adopted a puppy, bought a designer purse, or invested in an iPad!

What about you? Are you willing to make sacrifices now so you can benefit later?

What are your personal challenges? Losing weight? Getting out of debt? Saving for retirement?

To reuse a famous marketing campaign: Delayed gratification is a Nike thing—JUST DO IT! It’s a winning strategy that seldom comes with regret.


Royalty-free image by Bob Smith; retrieved from



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