The Enemy of Progress: Instant Gratification

There are a million enemies of progress. Winston Churchill called Perfection the enemy of progress, and Edmond Mbiaka called fear the enemy of progress.

I was thinking to myself last night, what could prevent or delay someone’s progress. Instant gratification instantly came to mind.

One reason for the increase or need for instant gratification is because of social media. This, however, is more of a psychological problem than a social one. As humans, we naturally want to be gratified for everything we do, as soon as we do it.

What’s paradoxical about instant gratification, is that it can actually delay your progress and fulfillment. If you’re constantly waiting for approval, you will never move on or progress in that journey. Even if you do, it will slow you down. Delayed gratification, is still gratifying, but without that distraction of celebrating false progress. Let me give you an example.

My high school football coach freshman year was called Ron North. He instilled a philosophy of delayed gratification. Every time we’d win a game he’d ask us, “Are you satisfied?” and we’d yell back, “No!”.

We won game after game, finishing the season with 8 wins and only 1 loss. At the very end of the season, we were Conference Champions and he asked us, “Are you satisfied?” and we all screamed, “Yes!”. The feeling of celebrating at the end was 10x better than celebrating at the beginning. It also kept our focus on the real prize at hand.

In many psychological models, humans will always choose to gratify their needs, wants, and urges. We are weak to our desires, and slaves to our ego. We want everything to happen now, for the simple fact that now is when we want it.

We can even see it in many marketing tactics and in the UI/UX of the products and services we use. “Download App Now” buttons. Amazon’s same-day delivery. Chatbots on every site. “It’s my money and I need it now!” commercials.

In this world of instant gratification, I want to challenge you all to delay your gratification. Instead of spending money as soon as you get it, choose to invest it. You might not see the returns immediately, but when they come, you’ll be extremely gratified.

Instead of posting on Twitter about that good news you just got, share it with your close friends and family first. Getting those “likes” in real life will be rewarding when you’re sharing those memories with your family later in life. Those are your real followers.

It’s hard work, and it’s a habit that you must form, but it’s extremely rewarding. It increases your focus, your self-control, and your sense of self. It’s extremely powerful knowing that your happiness is linear, and not non-linear. Your happiness isn’t based on that promotion, that check, the “like” on Instagram or anything. Your happiness IS the journey, and instant gratification can delay you from progressing in it.

Here are 5 Strategies from The Start of Happiness for Delayed Gratification.

  1. Know Your Values
  2. Know What You Want to Achieve
  3. Create a Plan
  4. Prioritize
  5. Reward Yourself

 

About the Author O.K. Arowolaju

Youth Minister, Product Manager

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