By Stefani Rios

Life has taken a whole new form since the emergence of technology. In 2023 we are flooded with dopamine and instant gratification everywhere.

Instant gratification refers to the experience of receiving immediate satisfaction or pleasure from a particular action or behavior. Usually resulting in a tendency to forgo a future benefit in order to obtain a less rewarding but more immediate benefit.

Delayed gratification is a concept that seems to be missing in the minds of many young adults today. In this article, I will be explaining why we should all challenge ourselves to fight instant gratification and remember why delayed gratification is the true secret to success. 

Speaking from personal experience, I believe that true success has lost its meaning. There are all these people selling courses on how to grow your TikTok in three months or on how to start a million-dollar company in less than a year. All this noise has made me feel as if I am not successful for not reaching certain goals right away. All this pressure to see results now has caused unnecessary, self-inflicted stress. 

As I continue to sharpen my skills in overall wellness and productivity, I have realized that true success and true change requires self-control, patience, and discipline. The most successful individuals and companies did not grow overnight. 

This article is here to serve as motivation and as a reminder that true success can take many years of effort and patience. Don’t give up hope and use this as motivation to restructure your life and habits to reach the dreams you know you deserve <3.

Why is instant gratification so bad?

Instant gratification may not always be a bad thing. From an evolutionary standpoint, drinking water when thirsty, going to the bathroom when you need to, or eating when hungry are all things that we have to do in an instant to survive. 

As humanity became more advanced, instant gratification has turned into overeating, binge drinking, binge watching shows, mindlessly scrolling through social media, or impulsive spending. 

For many reasons, instant gratification causes more harm than good. The biggest consequences are shortened attention span, lack of self-control, and career/business struggles. According to TreeTop Therapy, the average attention span has decreased 25% from 2000 to 2015. This explains why so many college students and young entrepreneurs have difficulty finishing tasks in an efficient amount of time. 

Lack of self-control can be explained by the subconscious wanting to find quick fixes that release lots of dopamine. For instance, watching TikToks makes us feel better than watching a 45-minute lecture. But when we choose to stay on TikTok, we get frustrated at ourselves when we are behind, which leads to stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety lead to a decrease in productivity which also increases the pressure we feel. This ultimately creates a cycle of stress that’s difficult to break out of. In this way, we can see how our desire for instant gratification can have larger impacts on our life and overall wellbeing.

Why is delayed gratification important?

Delayed gratification is the ability to resist immediate rewards in order to achieve greater rewards in the future. This involves choosing to delay or postpone a desired reward in the present moment in order to achieve a more significant reward later on.

Delayed gratification is a skill that will allow you to regain your self-control and help you to live life with more purpose. 

Like Tony Robbins says, “The ability to hold out now for a better reward later is an essential life skill. Delayed gratification allows you to do things like forgo large purchases to save for a vacation, skip dessert to lose weight, or take a job you don’t love but that will help your career later on.” 

Practicing delayed gratification can also help increase your overall confidence. Knowing that you can control your impulses and that you are completing all the steps necessary to make your goals a reality is truly a wonderful feeling. 

How do I start practicing delayed gratification?

1.Become aware of your urges

The only way to fix or change a behavior or habit is first to become aware that you are doing it in the first place. If you want to study more efficiently, you must first notice the things you do when you try studying. 

Do you go on your phone as soon as you get to the library? Do you check social media every five minutes? Do you talk to friends while studying? Once you start to notice your current behaviors, you can start tweaking them.

Next time you get to the library, keep your phone in your backpack for at least five minutes and try studying for 30 minutes alone before joining your friends. Starting small and giving yourself rewards after you delay the urge for instant gratification lays the fundamental building blocks necessary to continue training your brain. 

2.Hold yourself accountable

As young adults, we finally get to navigate the world without someone else telling us what to do. However, we need to remind ourselves that we must be our own parents. We must set ourselves up for long-term success by holding ourselves accountable. 

If you told yourself you can’t watch Netflix until all your homework is done, listen to yourself, do not disrespect yourself. If you cannot do it for yourself, no one will do it for you. 

My favorite way to phrase this is as “non-negotiables.” Every day, I have to read for at least 15 minutes, go to the gym, and take my supplements—these are non-negotiables. I cannot convince myself to not read one day because I know that if I cannot do these simple tasks, I will never be able to run a successful company. 

Your inner dialogue sets the tone for how to set yourself up for success in the physical world. Find your non-negotiables and reward yourself when you stick to them!

3.Remember your long-term goals

Each day, you should spend at least 15 minutes reminding yourself of your long-term goals and visualize the steps you must complete to accomplish these goals. 

Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture helps you realize that binge watching Netflix is not going to help you become the lawyer, doctor, or entrepreneur you want to become. Keeping your goals in mind is crucial to your journey to success because it helps you sharpen the skills that you’ll need to get you to where you want to be. 

In conclusion, remember what your true vision is. Remember that sustainable success takes time, discipline, and patience. Cut out the noise and believe that you have everything it takes to achieve all you desire in this life. 

By following the steps above, you will truly start to see a difference in your overall confidence, performance, and wellbeing. It may take some time, but be patient and kind to yourself. Nothing exists past this present moment. So begin acting in ways that your future self would be proud of. 

By Stefani Rios