Delayed gratification is one of the most effective personal traits of successful people. People that delay gratification are more successful with their career, relationships, health, finances and really, all areas of life.
The power of delayed gratification is best know from a the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, a study conducted by Professor Walter Mischel at Stanford University. In this experiment, Mischel studied a group of four to six-year-old children who were given a marshmallow (some kind of sweet) and left in a room for fifteen minutes. They were given the choice of being able to eat the marshmallow now, or if they were to wait the fifteen minutes, they would be able to have two marshmallows. Ultimately, some children were able to wait the fifteen minutes, whilst others were not able to.
Researchers continued to study the development of the children into adulthood. They found that those children that were able to delay gratification were psychologically better adjusted, more dependable persons, more self-motivated, and as high school students, scored significantly better with grades. With the latest study conducted on these exact same participants in 2011, the research has shown that the characteristic has remained with the individuals for life.
Here are some ways I have applied the Marshmallow test to improve my finances and health:
1. I have driven the same car for almost 10 years. I can easily afford a decent car on the market but I choose not to because I want a better financial future for myself and my family.
2. I save over 50% of my salary. This may sound crazy but for me this is absolutely normal and necessary to achieve my financial freedom goals.
3. I have spent several millions to start a small manufacturing business. Hopefully all goes well and I earn a huge return in the future!
4. I invest almost all my savings in various ventures including cash, treasury bills, unit trusts, shares, insurance products, agriculture, land and property, forestry, small business, etc. I could easily spend this money on things which could give me instant gratification but I choose not to.
5. I take a cold shower most mornings. Taking a cold shower is a way to build resilience and has several health benefits.
6. I exercise almost daily. It is easier to switch on the TV and watch another soap opera but I choose not to. Sticking to a daily physical routine builds mental resilience and willpower to pursue my financial goals.
7. I rarely watch TV. I choose not to watch TV and instead engage in other activities which improve my life and finances.
8. I live way below my means. This has allowed me to accumulate a large capital reserve which I can now deploy on various investment ventures.
9. I have stopped borrowing money completely. If I really need something then I save slowly to acquire it. If I can’t afford it then I don’t buy it.
10. I read two books per week. I am building knowledge and wisdom for the future. I could easily spend this time lazily browsing through social media but I choose to invest it in my mindset.
Delaying gratification is an individual choice. You can choose to have something now, or you can choose to have something bigger or better at a later time. Delaying gratification improves your willpower and ultimately helps you reach your longer-term goals faster.