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Why Instant Gratification Holds You Back from Achieving What You Want

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Why Instant Gratification Holds You Back from Achieving What You Want

We often hear advice like “live in the moment” and “the time is now.” These are wise words, and being mindful of the present moment is an excellent way to live well. However, getting everything we want when we want it is not necessarily good for us. Instant gratification can make us complacent and lazy.

In this article, you will learn why immediate gratification holds you back from achieving what you want, and what you can do to overcome impulsive behavior and short-term pleasure.

Why You Are Tempted Into Instant Gratification

We have access to fast everything—information, food, technology, entertainment, comfort. We don’t have to exert a lot of effort into fulfilling our desires and, in many cases, we can purchase goods and services in an instant that will gratify our every requirement. Social media has trained us to want things here and now.

What we don’t consider are the lessons and benefits we miss out on when we don’t resist temptation and delay fulfillment. We experience personal growth when we work harder to achieve satisfaction. We also take for granted the value of aiming for long-term goals and benefitting from the process by which we reach contentment.

Minimalist blogger and author Leo Babauta points out that we don’t have to deprive ourselves of the good things in life in order to achieve balance. It’s simply a matter of restraint and mindfulness—being conscious about the decisions we make and having boundaries.

He says that instant gratification “leads to debt, clutter, bad health, distractions, mindlessness,” while practicing deferred gratification and consciousness “leads to simplicity, health and fitness, focus, achievement, mindfulness, appreciation for all the gifts of life.”[1]

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Do You Struggle with Instant Gratification? You Must Try These 5 Steps

    In a luxury- and technology-centered world, it is easy to become detached from our core values and the important things in life[2]. We start to give priority to superficial things: objects, material wealth, acquisition, and appearance[3].

    We discard the need to acknowledge the future and possible consequences for our actions. We don’t consider waste, damage to our health or the environment, or other possible adverse effects of our actions in the pursuit of immediate gratification. We lose the desire to experience the pleasure of achieving long-term goals and their positive outcomes.

    Why Is Instant Gratification Bad for You?

    Instant gratification can feel good in the moment, but it can often get you into a routine of seeking out short-term fixes for long-term problems. Here are some reasons instant gratification is bad for you and how you can fix it.

    1. The Feeling Doesn’t Last

    Your dissatisfaction with short-lived pleasure causes your needs to be magnified the next time you seek fulfillment. This can often lead to disastrous and largely unforeseen costs, like addiction.

    There are many examples of this. Overindulging in food, alcohol or drugs, technology such as the internet, gaming and gambling, even seemingly harmless indulgences like shopping or improving body image through diet and fitness can become obsessive and have counterproductive results.

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    How to Overcome It

    This doesn’t mean we have to completely discard our opportunities to enjoy these things. We just need to have limits, and we need to be aware of how we do things and how much or how often we indulge.

    That is the difference between living our life and wasting it. Of course, it is wise to live in the present and take advantage of the things that make us happy, but we need to do things in a healthy way and plan for the future. It takes foresight and consideration to ensure we achieve a balance.

    2. You Can Lose Motivation and Control

    When we feel the need for instant gratification and constant stimulation, we can lose motivation to achieve goals that aren’t bringing in fast results. We may begin to feel a loss of control as our mind seeks out anything to offer a reward.

    Short-term gratification will get in the way of your long-term goals. Your mind may not be used to having to wait, and patience will become a serious issue.

    How to Overcome It

    Being mindful of the urges you experience is primary. Trying keeping a list of every time you get the urge to do something, and instead of fulfilling it, just making a note of it. Examples of these urges include snacking, checking your phone, or buying something unnecessary.

    Instead of denying your urges completely, just delay the gratification. Put some space between when you feel an urge and when you gratify it. This will train your brain to wait, which will make it easier next time.

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    For more tips on how to increase motivation, check out this article.

    3. Your Awareness Will Diminish

    If you’re constantly giving in to in-the-moment desires through immediate gratification, you’re not taking the time to analyze what’s happening or notice how you’re feeling or what you’re doing. Impatience or boredom will become foreign, and getting out of those states will become your biggest priority.

    How to Overcome It

    The key is to practice consciousness and hone your awareness of what is happening in your mind and in your body through mindfulness. We sometimes indulge urges without even thinking, and before we know it, we’ve devoured the entire tub of ice cream or put another $1000 in a poker machine.

    If that’s exactly what you want to do, then fine, but know that what you are doing is a conscious decision and own it. Take responsibility for it.

    These skills take practice, and it is important to allow yourself to learn lessons in good time. If instant gratification has been your way of life for a long time, don’t expect it to change overnight. Just get better with each experience. Allow yourself to fail and try and do better the next time an opportunity to practice resistance and mindfulness comes along.

    4. You Lose the Moment

    If you indulge urges, your mind is so focused on the indulgence that it blocks out everything else. Delaying gratification can heighten your awareness of a specific moment and help you learn how to experience it with a sense of peace instead of frustration or desperation.

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    How to Overcome It

    After practicing this kind of mindfulness, you will have the strength and discipline to enjoy the moment without actually indulging in immediate gratification. It gives us a great sense of accomplishment and achievement when we realize how capable we are of exercising willpower. These skills can be extremely rewarding and sometimes lifesaving; quitting smoking is a prominent example that comes to mind.

    Check out this article for more on how to live in the moment.

    Final Thoughts

    Investing in our future is underrated. With focus and repetition, we can learn to plan for our goals in the long run and minimize our need for instant gratification. We can find a balance and still be able to enjoy the best things in life without overindulging and making decisions that will affect our lives adversely.

    Sit with boredom instead of fighting it. Analyze feelings of desperation instead of trying to immediately calm them. This will all take time, but it will lead to less reliance on immediate gratification, which will ultimately be completely worth it.

    More on Instant Gratification

    Featured photo credit: Daria Nepriakhina via unsplash.com

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    Diane Koopman

    Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

    5 Things Most People Overlook When Setting Goals This Is How Mentally Strong People Deal With Guilt How to Grow Old Gracefully: 10 Ways You May Not Have Considered instant gratification Why Instant Gratification Holds You Back from Achieving What You Want How I Found My Passion to Make Everyday of My Life Exciting

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    Last Updated on November 30, 2021

    Tap Into Success With These Long-Term Career Goals Tips

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    Tap Into Success With These Long-Term Career Goals Tips

    I’ve been very lucky in my career to have worked with some amazing people, people who built their careers on the back of hard work, passion, and focus. But the most successful of these people had something else. Hard work, passion, and focus were there, but to get to the very top you need more than just these things; you also need solid, long-term career goals.

    In this article, I will give you seven Long Term Career Goals Tips that you can use when goal setting to build a successful career.

    1. Know What You Want

    This one might seem obvious, but many people never take the time to think carefully about what they want to do in their career[1]. They accept jobs in industries or departments they have no interest in and soon find themselves settled into a career of misery and complaining.

    It always amazes me how people spend more time planning their annual summer holiday than they do their career.

    If you want to build success in your work, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to do and where you want to go. You need that North Star to guide you in your decisions and to keep you focused on where you are going with each stepping stone.

    Without that clarity, you will drift from one role to another, never building any momentum towards your ultimate career goal.

    2. Ask Yourself: What Skills Am I Lacking?

    When we begin our working lives, we have the academic skills but lack many practical skills.

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    When you know what you want to do with your career, you can identify the skills you will need. Soft skills such as relationship building, the ability to collaborate with others, and your productivity all form part of these skills, and you need to make sure you are developing them.

    Invest in yourself, and for those skills that do not develop naturally, find courses online or some books to study. Once you have studied these skills, make sure you put them into practice through your long-term career goals. This one tip will put you ahead of 98% of your colleagues who treat their work as just a job that pays them money to live.

    3. Know That Success Leaves a Path

    I teach this one to all of my clients. In every industry, there are examples of people who started at the bottom and worked their way up to become industry leaders. Examples include Satya Nadella at Microsoft and Jony Ive at Apple. These people were not founders or entrepreneurs; they worked their way up to the top from the bottom, and left clues along the way

    Whatever company you are in, there will be people who began at the bottom and worked their way up to become leaders. What kind of role models did they have? What books did they read? What skills did they develop?

    I remember when I worked in the hotel industry. One of my mentors began as a receptionist. She rose to become the General Manager of my home city’s top hotel through having a clear goal, diligence, and always putting the guest first. She was tough but fair.

    I learnt from her that every time you come into work, the guest was always the top priority and to always be respectful of your colleagues.

    Find that one person in your industry that rose from the bottom and work out the path they took to get to where you want to be in the future. Then, map out your own path that reflects the path already taken to the top.

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    4. Watercooler Gossip Will Not Help Your Career

    I know it is always tempting to be the popular one in your office, to be the one everyone wants to hang out with and the one to go to when there’s some gossip to share. However, if you want to achieve your long-term career goals, don’t get involved.

    Being the “office gossip” will sink your career faster than anything else. If you are serious about building a successful career, you do not have time to get involved in all this gossiping, complaining, and time wasting.

    You don’t have to ignore your colleagues, but never indulge them by listening to the gossip. Make your excuses and get back to work. This one tip will safeguard your career more than any other.

    5. Do Work When at Work

    Your workplace is not a social club. It is a place to do the work you were employed to do.

    Of course, being polite and friendly towards your colleagues is important, but never forget you are there to do work. Avoid getting yourself drawn into long conversations about that episode of Vikings or your local football team’s performance.

    There is a time and place for these conversations, but it is not on company time. When at work, do your work, or you’ll never be able to make progress on your long-term career goals.

    Here are some tips on how to focus on work: 15 Quick Ways To Focus on Work Easily

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    6. Focus on How You Can Be Better

    One of the qualities I have seen in all successful career builders is they have a “How can I do it better?” mindset. They are always asking themselves how they can do their work better, or how could they have solved that problem better.

    It is a mindset of continuous self-improvement, and it is a practice that can catapult you to the top faster than anything else.

    Look for parts of your work that are taking too much time and figure out how to streamline. Or, identify ways you could better serve your team and begin to implement them. Any of these can serve you when you’re creating long-term career goals.

    Often, new working practices are welded on to old ones, and this leads to inefficiencies and duplication, especially if you’re in a leadership position. Find those inefficiencies and develop better ways of doing that work. This habit is always appreciated by your bosses and tells them you are serious about your work.

    7. Model Successful Behaviors

    Find the person at the top and work out how they got there. This does not necessarily mean the person at the top of your company; it means the person at the top of your industry.

    If you are an architect, find out how Sir Frank Foster built his career. If you are a writer, find out how Stephen King or Maya Angelou gained experience and built their careers.

    These people have shown you how to do it, and they left clues. Read everything you can about them, learn from them, and model their work habits.

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    Modeling does not mean copying. It means taking the traits they used and adapting them to work best for you.

    My legal hero was a British lawyer, George Carmen QC. When I began my legal career, I read everything I could about George Carmen QC. I learned that the key skill that led to his success was his ability to communicate with juries. He was a brilliant communicator, and I realized the one skill I could learn that would have a huge impact on my career was the ability to communicate with people.

    While I did not ultimately follow a legal career, that skill of being good at communicating has served me well in all the industries I have worked in.

    The Bottom Line

    Whatever career path you are following, these tips will serve you well as you aim to create long-term career goals that will point you in the right direction. Creating clear short and long-term goals around the above tips will give you the advantages you need to build a wildly successful career. They are tested, they work, and all you need to do is to adapt them so they work for you.

    More Tips on Setting Career Goals

    Featured photo credit: Smart via unsplash.com

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