Short Term Thinking vs Long term Goals: The effects of Instant Gratification and how it harms us as men

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What does that mean?

It has a lot to do with putting off what we think we need now for something that we want most later, or more applicably, delaying instant gratification or prolonging our desires. Training our minds to be disciplined.

There was a study done by Stanford University called the Marshmallow experiment:

The study was essentially focused on delayed gratification.

In these studies a child was offered a choice between a small rewards (marshmallow) provided immediately or two small rewards (a larger reward) later if they waited for a short period of time (approximately 15 minutes). During this period the tester left the room and returned after the allotted time.



In follow-up studies (years later), the researchers found that the children who were able to wait longer for the larger reward tended to have better life outcomes, such as higher SAT scores, BMI, educational attainment, and various other achievements.

It’s interesting to know that delaying gratification and having will power as a young child translates the same way.

Sure, we can't base everything off of what a couple kids did in an experiment, but the research is definitely worthy of taking into account.

The point I want to hit on though is that we live in an extremely consumerist and entitled culture. We want things right now, and we want them the way we want them, no exceptions.

We believe that everything should be handed to us, in our laps, with a pretty red ribbon tied around it, and with all our wishes coming true.

I can’t help but be reminded of the movie Fight Club. The narrator (Edward Norton) has become discontented with life. He becomes a depressed insomniac that looks for any way to fill the void in his life. He consumes everything, even silly Feng-Shui crap for his apartment.

Although some of us might not be insomniacs, sometimes our lives feel like that as we go from day to day.

All of a sudden, the narrator meets the wild and crazy carefree Tyler Durden. (The man he wants to be), and his life changes. They form a fight club.

What’s interesting is that a lot of men want in on the club, they don’t even know why they are fighting, but it cuts through something deep in them, they somehow feel free when they fight. It’s the only release they have from the crazy hectic, depressing lives and white collar jobs that they all have.

These men, follow Tyler to the ends of the earth, and even go into criminal acts to stay committed.

It just goes to show you that men are looking for something more in their lives. More than a consumerist culture, or an “I want it now mentality.”

What men really want is freedom.

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Most of us are in seasons of life that we might not be able to control:

  • Maybe you are in the military and you can't change careers until you get out.
  • Maybe you're in the middle of moving to a new state.
  • Maybe you are in a job, and you need the job to pay the bills and the debt that you have accumulated.
  • Maybe you have two babies at home and you and your wife are struggling to find your way.

Whatever it is, I have been there.

If you don’t do something about it, the cycle will continue.

 

There are a couple things that you can do.

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Think about where you want to be in 5 years. Don't think about all the stuff that is going on right now, just look into the future in 5 years. Where do you want to be , who do you want to be, and what do you want to be doing?

  • When my wife and I were paying off our $55,000 in debt, we naturally wanted it to be over as soon as possible, but it just didn’t work out that way, but we did give ourselves a deadline of 2 1/2 years to do it. It was a very long 2 1/2 years, but we kept that end goal in mind.
  • The thought of being debt free was all we needed to move us in the right direction.Had I thought about trying to pay all of the debt off every day I would have been overwhelmed. I had a long term goal with some short term action steps. I didn't have short term thinking though 
  • Don't trade what you want now, for what you want most.

If you are stuck in a position...,start masterminding a way out. Don’t just quit something and move onto something else. Create a side hustle or a side project. Plan the escape, don’t just try and escape…yet.

  • It takes thoughtfulness and time. The more strategic the better. Work your angle.
  • Start small, and move 1% towards your desired outcome. Then do it over and over again.
  • Always move forward, stay active and think offensively. The more you go after what you want, the more likely you are to achieve it.

Don't do what everyone else is doing. The band Nickelback has a song called "If today was your last day". The lyrics that hit me the most are"

Against the grain should be a way of life
What's worth the prize is always worth the fight
Every second counts 'cause there's no second try
So live like you'll never live it twice
Don't take the free ride in your own life

Don't give into something now, because you think it is going to satisfy you somehow. It won't. Everything worth doing is going to be difficult, but it is always worth it.

- Stephen


Sparta photo credit: Σταύρος Look out / 300 the movie via photopin (license)