He who cannot obey himself will be commanded. That is the nature of living creatures.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
If you think of elite sportspeople, famous actors, successful entrepreneurs and top real estate agents, what is it that they have in common?
It is their ability to make a high-level commitment to a goal without getting an immediate reward, pleasure or success in return for their efforts.
It is called delaying gratification.
Several years ago a group of children were part of the marshmallow experiment.
The experiment asked the children to sit in a room with a marshmallow in front of them and not eat it.
If they succeeded, they would be given another one at the end of the experiment.
The kids were followed throughout their lives as adults, and the research found that those children who did not eat the marshmallows became more successful, had better health, relationships and lives in general because they were able to hold out for a better reward rather than get immediate pleasure.
The experiment showed how important delaying gratification is to being personally successful.
So how do we teach ourselves or learn to delay gratification?
1. PRACTISE DISCIPLINE
The reason the elite forces can complete highly executed missions and endure the harshest and most intense conditions is because they practised discipline, over and over again, until they were conditioned for extreme battle and the demands it places on them.
The more you practise what you don’t feel like doing, the more you condition yourself to delay gratification.
2. ASSOCIATE MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF PAIN TO NON RESOURCEFUL BEHAVIOUR
Tony Robbins says, “The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.”
He teaches that if you have a behaviour that holds you back, for example not prospecting enough because there is no immediate reward, then to change this behaviour you should associate massive amounts of pain with it.
Then you should use the feeling you get from the pain of not doing it to motivate you to start prospecting.
3. CONNECT TO YOUR FUTURE SELF
In the book The Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonigal suggests you connect to your future self and get as close to them as possible.
The closer you are to that person and want to be that person, the more you will act in their interest.
You will want to do the right thing by them. The book also suggests that reducing stress, bringing the heart rate down and deep breathing all can enhance the capacity for the willpower needed to delay gratification.
4. HAVE GRATITUDE
Researchers Dickens and DeSteno have found that having gratitude can be connected to a person’s preference to wait longer for better rewards as gratitude helps you value your future options more.
5. CONTROL YOUR THOUGHT CHOICES
Learn to control which thoughts you choose to accept.
Practise choosing thoughts that empower you and propel you forward. Challenge the “I want it now” thoughts that make you not want to delay gratification and practise choosing the thoughts that take you closer to your goal, not further away.
Delaying gratification is the super highway to the results you want, so practise the above daily to achieve greater success.