6 Tips to Make Delayed Gratification Easier to Swallow

“Delayed gratification is a sweet lesson whose teacher knows the best is not right now, it is yet to be.”

– Maximillian Degenerz


Roast banana cupcakes

Everyone craves instant gratification.  It’s that little human urge we all have to ‘want it and want it now.’ But when we do we often find that further down the road, by succumbing to it, it often shoots us in the foot.


You know what I mean.  Reaching for the sweets when we’re trying to lose 10 pounds, because after all, a little cupcake can’t do that much harm.  The problem is, each cupcake or cookie we justify keeps us further and further away from our goals.


Do we really want the cookie?  Maybe.  Maybe not. Maybe we simply don’t like the idea of knowing we can’t have it that triggers our desire. So we cheat.  It tastes good. We tell ourselves we’ll get back on our diets tomorrow. That sounds fine – until the next cupcake or cookie throws temptation in our way, again.


Translate that into the business environment and we find we often derail ourselves.  It’s tempting to go after a quick win instead of working  processes that grow long term success.


What’s at hand often seems more appealing, but it tends to make us procrastinate over the stuff that really counts. We become masters of avoidance techniques and try to justify our inaction by rationalizing that it might not be the best time to get started on that long term process. It may be too much work to take on now. It will demand more time, more focus, more energy, more expense.  After all, the results don’t carry a money back guarantee and maybe we should just put it on the back burner. Take the easy way out.  Do what’s at hand. Deal with what’s happening now. Get some instant gratification.  Make a buck today and let tomorrow take care of itself.


Fear of starting something it painful, even though in the long run we know we need to do it if we want to reach our long term goals. Instant gratification is a lot more pleasurable regardless of future consequences.


Unfortunately what we end up doing is standing in the way of our own best interest.


If we could only get ourselves to make those short term sacrifices our long term goals would hold far greater rewards.


Being able to delay gratification is possible with tried, true – and these 6 simple behavioral tricks, can help.


  1. Having a vision or a goal in your mind isn’t enough. Pretend you’ve already achieved it. What does your world look like? Keep that vision front and center.
  2. Be like Mark Twain:  Eat your frogs first thing in the morning. Everything else can wait – including emails.
  3. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the task at hand.  Break your goals up into little doable chunks.
  4. If you have a hard time concentrating, link the onerous tasks with something you enjoy.
  5. We’ve been talking about habits for a couple of weeks now.  Why not tag working on your goal to a good habit?
  6. Start small. Start with the piece easiest to accomplish and gradually build up from there. It will appease your need for gratification while building your reserves.


Those of us in business know serving our customers’ needs and serving the greater good is our prime concern. We often forget to include ourselves in the equation.  Be good to yourself. Celebrate the small wins and accomplishments along the way and I guarantee the rewards will be sweet.


Photo courtesy of Nina


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