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Why Instant Gratification is the Villain of Success

Why Instant Gratification is the Villain of Success

Please take a moment to consider some of the greatest creations in human history. I’m referring to magnificent structures like the Eiffel Tower; beautiful paintings like Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”; and heart-wrenching tragedies like William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” If the artists responsible for these works were ruled by instant gratification, do you believe they would have become masters of their craft? Somehow, I doubt it. They probably tried and failed a hundred times before they created art that still inspires people centuries later. Below are three signs your desire for instant gratification is destroying your odds of success.

You think the world owes you something.

Your parents might have raised you to believe you can do anything you set your mind to. They weren’t incorrect in that statement, but they might have left out a relevant detail. You can achieve anything you set your mind to as long as you put in the work that is required. Stephen King’s first hit novel, “Carrie,” got rejected dozens of times before he became a household name.

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J.K. Rowling, the author of the “Harry Potter” series, received a rejection note that told her “not to quit her day job” before she got published. Michael Jordan wasn’t born with an innate ability to play basketball. He spent years practicing his shot for six hours or more per day before he led the Chicago Bulls to ten NBA championships. If you’re not willing to put forth a high level of effort for a long period of time, then you might be ruled by instant gratification.

You believe you have all the answers.

Excellence requires precision and attention to detail. Self-published authors often dismiss marketing, because they think it is a distraction from writing (and then they wonder why their book didn’t sell better). Managers often dismiss emotional intelligence, because they think it is a distraction from productivity (and then they wonder why their employee turnover isn’t better).

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Personal trainers often dismiss positive psychology, because they think it is a distraction from training sessions (and then they wonder why their client’s compliance isn’t better). Our educational system might have raised you to believe you can be successful as long as you are good at a single thing. I hate to break it to you, but this belief is nothing but a pipe-dream. If you’re not willing to become well-versed in ALL of the subjects excellence requires, then you might be ruled by instant gratification.

You refuse to try things you’re not good at.

I’ve been attending a Pilates class for several months now, because my core strength needs work. My instructor told me she’s thrilled to have a dedicated male in her class. Most other men, she observed, struggle through one class and never come back. I know it’s hard to motivate yourself to do something you’re bad at, but that is the only way you will ever get any better at it.

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A few years ago, I went my first yoga class. I hated it. I couldn’t even reach my ankles in a bent-over stretch, much less my toes. Standing on one foot for balance poses made me so wobbly that I almost fell on my butt. My hips were so tight that I felt embarrassed. Now I love yoga. I can reach past my ankles, past my toes, and touch my palms to the ground. I can stand on one foot confidently, with no fear of falling. I can stretch my hips into positions that I couldn’t have imagined during my first class. Would I have achieved any of those things if I didn’t have enough patience to stick with it? Nope. I’d be just as rigid today as I was before. If you’re not willing to do things you suck at, then you might be ruled by instant gratification.

If it was meant to be easy, everybody would do it. Banish your desire for instant gratification, because it will get you nowhere.

Featured photo credit: I always wanted a happy ending…/Geraint Rowland via flickr.com

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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