I wanted to write a little bit on Instant Gratification and how we should try to avoid it. Most organizations and big brands today know about this and use it against us to make us spend more money on day to day items. If you know about instant gratification and can avoid it using the strategies mentioned below, you can make a positive change not just in your financials but also in your health, self-esteem and confidence.
What is Instant Gratification?
Humans are very emotional beings. Some of the most basic emotions humans have are desire, pleasure, happiness etc. We usually tend to forgo our long-term goals to fulfill our innate desire to get some need met quickly and without much hard work. Basically, our long-term goals usually involve lots of hardships, uncertainty, pain, endurance all of which makes our brain very uncomfortable. When we see something that we really like our brain forgoes all reasoning or logic. Our impulsive nature and emotions take control and it becomes difficult to stop ourselves from buying something or doing something that gives us instant gratification.
In the modern world fueled with technological advances it has become easier than ever for companies to help us fulfill our emotional needs by trying to sell us things we(don’t) want and as soon as possible.
Let’s look at some examples to see where we see this in our day to day lives
- Social media is all about being in the moment. Dating apps allow you to pick up dates in spur of the moment. There is no waiting needed. You post something on FB or IG and you get instant replies and likes from your friends making you happy! Netflix allows you stream anything you want instantly! No waiting needed. You can binge the whole season in a day and you get your dinner delivered at home in 30 min.
- Same day delivery/two-day delivery: Amazon and other companies are pioneering in the field of logistics and are able to deliver you anything you want from a anywhere in 2 days or less. Again, eliminates any need for waiting. I am guilty of this I order a brand-new smartphone and the day its arriving I go home early from work. I am literally waiting for the mailman at my door to deliver my phone tracking almost real time how far away from my house he really is. One delivery is fine but many deliveries later and you are now a trained monkey who keeps ordering online and getting boxes full of crap you don’t need delivered at home in 2 days or less.
- Convenience is the name of the game. Price per can of coke is the cheapest if bought at Costco or a big wholesaler and is highest if the same can is bought from a vending machine. Why? because in buying that one can of coke from vending machine you are fulfilling your desire/emotions to be satisfied immediately. Its more comfortable to pay for it rather than to go to a store and buy it.
- Newbies and recent graduates join real world jobs and within a year feel like there is no job satisfaction. They complain and then want to switch jobs. No one really wants to go through the hardship and the pain to take time and patience to build a career. And I won’t blame them, they have just been trained to get what they want right then and there.
All this slowly keeps training us to expect anything and everything instantly. This leads us to not have any patience. I recently read an article where in a small child who went to dinner with his parents could not for a minute remove his eyes from his smartphone. His parents understood it was bad manners and tried to snatch away the smartphone from him. Suddenly child became restless, eyes twitched, started feeling angst, uncomfortable etc. It’s as if he had an addiction to smartphone. He could just not stand being away from it and just wanted to go back to his phone. Problem is Instant gratification is only fleeting. Its temporary. Once you buy the latest smartphone or do whatever to feel happy for a few moments, few days later you want something else to make you feel happy.
How to avoid Instant gratification trap?
- Delay Gratification! When ordering stuff online put it in your cart and leave it there for a day or two. This forces you to give your brain some time to think if you really need this thing or not. You would be surprised to know how very rarely you would go back and order the item.
- Don’t pay for 2-day delivery services. It’s a great convenience to have anything arrive at home in 2 days. Amazon themselves in their earnings release statement note that members who have prime services on an average order twice or more from their website as compared to non-prime members. If this is not an example from horse’s mouth then I don’t know what is.
- Have a long-term goal in mind which you want to achieve. It can be financial, or career related etc. I just want to be financially independent as soon as possible. So, whenever I try to buy something I always go back and relate it to my long-term goal. My brain sub consciously tries to force me to not buy something in spur of the moment since I remember my long-term goal.
- Try to visualize your goal. When you feel like you want to eat fast food try to think about how healthy you can be, probably avoid obesity, diabetes etc. by not getting the fast food option and going for the healthier option.
- Reading this article is also good enough. Once you know about instant gratification and know you must avoid it. Next time you come across making any such decision your brain will sub consciously try to remember about long-term benefits and advantages and will try to sway you to the right choice!
You will find that as you build more patience, resilience and endurance you will be more successful in all parts of your life not just financial.