What do you think of delayed gratification?

lifeboat's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 348

Hello, monkeys. For those of you who do not know what delayed gratification is, I'll leave you the Wikipedia definition "Delayed gratification, or deferred gratification, describes the process that the subject undergoes when the subject resists the temptation of an immediate reward in preference for a later reward. Generally, delayed gratification is associated with resisting a smaller but more immediate reward in order to receive a larger or more enduring reward later"

Would like to hear your thoughts

Comments (32)

Aug 12, 2018

It works. Studies show it works. But it depends on the magnitude of the delayed reward (e.g waiting for something 1.2x the reward now or 2x+) and the importance of the reward.

Aug 12, 2018

thanks for the comment, I agree on the importance of the reward bit

Most Helpful
Aug 12, 2018

Very interesting question. Full disclosure - I'm in my 50s so I'll have a different perspective than younger readers. Hopefully you'll find it useful.

When I was in my 20s and 30s, I had a lot of "wants". Movado watch, fancy cars. I was making good money but not enough to pay for the car with cash. I kept on telling myself, "wait". Don't do it. Don't take on all that debt which was hard because I'm a sales guy and can always justify things by knowing I can always go out and make extra money selling more. However, I convinced myself to hold off until I could just write a check for whatever I wanted.

Two things happened (and have continued to happen into my 50s):

  1. When I could afford to write the check, I know longer wanted the item. That was a good barometer as it would have just been a waste of money.
  2. When I did decide to reward myself, it was really meaningful and the memories have literally lasted a lifetime. I use the term "reward myself" with intent because it is very important to reward yourself along the way. You have to celebrate victories or they don't feel like victories and eventually you'll lose the juice to continue doing what you do.

Just be reasonable in the reward. I have found the delayed gratification has meant far more meaningful celebrations in my life - great trips my family and I will never forget. Doing really fun stuff without caring about the cost because we could (because I didn't blow it all along the way).

A byproduct of this discipline is having far more control of your life when you're older. Reward yourself. Have a blast! But if you are disciplined, you'll find yourself able to make decisions about how you live your life because you'll have a degree of financial freedom that is quite liberating (i.e. doing what you want, when you want, how you want, with who you want).

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Aug 12, 2018

Pretty insightful, thanks for the comment!

I am currently in my 20s and debating all the time with this idea of delaying gratification. A good mental practice is to wait for 48 hours, think if you still want the item and then decide: either you do not want it or you wait some more till you realize you definitely want it. But gratification can also came in the way of partying when you should be studying or not doing stuff at the office where you could be doing certain things.

Don't want to sound like a nerd in here, but in the early stages of a career, when you are in an off-cycle internship (as is my case) you need to give everything you have.

Aug 12, 2018

the "Wait 48 hours" is a very smart idea. Almost spent $500 on some new gold clubs and realized I play golf 1-2x a year tops, aka not worth it. Happy I didn't make a quick decision

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Aug 12, 2018

I agree with rewarding wins and also with rewarding within reason. Some people may celebrate closing a deal at associate or VP level with a new watch. But if that pattern continues what do you do as an MD? Have $1Mn+ in watches or up the reward to a house for every deal? Be reasonable. Always wanted to go to that fine dining restaurant that costs $300pp? Do it.

Aug 14, 2018

great advice. thank you

Aug 16, 2018
rickle:

Very interesting question. Full disclosure - I'm in my 50s so I'll have a different perspective than younger readers. Hopefully you'll find it useful.

Big believer in this. Pursue experiences, not things.

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Aug 12, 2018

Exactly. I'll remember that soaring 7-iron my son hit over a lake to nestle 2 feet from the pin forever. I don't recall the car I drove to get to the course...

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Aug 12, 2018

A version of that occurred when I started out in financial sales 30 some yrs ago. Lot of cold calling back then. I would have a goal of X calls or X appointments. Whenever I reached that goal, I ALWAYS told my self, "One more". One more generally became 10 or 15 more which would lead to additional activity which would lead to more revenue.

That was delayed gratification. It would have been easy to stop at 100 calls but I pushed forward so I could get to a bigger reality later, faster.

Used to do that with workouts too. Get one more rep, run an extra 100 yrds. Whatever, keep pushing after you've accomplished something. Just make sure you eventually reward yourself, otherwise you'll burn out big time.

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Aug 12, 2018

the same mental trick worked for me with workouts. not not in my best physical shape, but will certainly use this mental trick. got any others?

Aug 12, 2018

It's definitely important, but don't fall into the trap I was in for a while where I delayed gratification so much that I was miserable, learn to live a little.

If you can pretty easily afford it, and have wanted it for a while, treat yourself.

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Aug 12, 2018

Have to have some treats along the way, Otherwise there's no difference between success and struggle.

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Aug 12, 2018

I wholeheartedly believe a good percentage of the Western population wants to kill him/herself. It's an internal struggle (most) believe too shameful to share in public.

They delay this gratification (of ending the "suffering") , hoping for "better times" ahead. This typically gets delayed in perpetuity, and the person dies of natural causes/old age.

I can continue my (temporary) life [all life is temporary, by definition] knowing that I can, at any moment, end it on my own volition. This is how I sleep peacefully at night.

So yes, without delayed gratification, the world population would be quite a bit lower as a result of self annihilation.

Aug 12, 2018

Didn't read a single post. The answer is quite simple.

Delayed gratification has afforded my bride and me the opportunity to essentially retire at 50. I wouldn't do it any other way. In fact, we still do it to a greater or lesser degree. Frugality becomes a way of life. Still think one of the best lines I ever read regarding the subject came from this site: "Only spend money on things that will make you smile on your deathbed."

My bride and I have lived (will be 29 years on the 19th) our entire marriage with that mentality. As tire as it sounds: "Live like no one else today so that you may live like no one else tomorrow." I know I lifted that, but all Dave Ramsey did was re-package the same shit that we've known for decades, put a pretty bow on it and market the hell out of common sense. Who knew there would be a mass-market for such a lost art!?

Aug 13, 2018

My opinion on the value of delayed gratification:

Humans have a short memory span, and 98% of stuff you do in life will be consigned to the dustbin of some forgotten lonely neurons in your brain, and, furthermore, psychological research has demonstrated that most human memory is largely fictionalized anyway. So if you always just do stuff that is fun in the present moment, you willl always experience a relatively mediocre present moment compared to what might have been.

Therefore, to my mind having strong delayed gratification enables you to compound in value the quality of your present moment and thus is a key way to elevate our own existence. This applies not just to career / academic objectives but to personal life as well. If you go through the pain barrier to land that Ivy League acceptance, leading to great job, leading to good vacations, interacting with high calibre people, the experience of your present will be far greater than the short term thrill of a high school student sitting in your room blazing a join listening to blink 182 instead of pursuing that high GPA. You won't even remember the boredom of all that studying anyway so why not compound in value the experience of your future present by doing something that will add long term substance to your life?

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Aug 12, 2018

this is gold thanks

Aug 14, 2018

Delayed gratification can be problematic if it keeps you away from opportunities that end up being useful.

Array
Aug 14, 2018

been working for my boss for 2 yrs and still waiting for a hello, how's that for delayed gratification?

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Aug 14, 2018

My girl hates me for this. I make her take a lap around the mall after she sees something she may want. If she still wants it, she gets it.

I wanted to buy a Mercedes Benz C Class a few months ago...I mean I REALLY wanted it. But I figured I'd wait until I can get the payments where I want vs. a high payment and being locked into a job I hate 75% of the time.

Aug 14, 2018

Carry/Distributions....the ultimate test of delayed gratification especially when you are senior and have other people throwing some pretty lucrative near term opportunities your way

Aug 14, 2018

I've seen MDs in this industry spend their 20s sleeping in the office, their 30s eating every dinner at work, and their 40s raising their kids on the weekends, all so they can retire a few years earlier in their 50s. No guarantee that your health/finances will even hold up for that delayed payday. Life is short, enjoy it as you go.

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Aug 14, 2018
Alt-Ctr-Left:

I've seen MDs in this industry spend their 20s sleeping in the office, their 30s eating every dinner at work, and their 40s raising their kids on the weekends, all so they can retire a few years earlier in their 50s. No guarantee that your health/finances will even hold up for that delayed payday. Life is short, enjoy it as you go.

This is true. Life is fleeting.

Aug 14, 2018

Dedicating my 20s to the grind so I can live a better life later, but also making great money now to do things that most 20-somethings can't. Best of both worlds.

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Aug 14, 2018

A recent analysis of studies testing for "delayed gratification" found they didn't control for trust. As in: what if the subjects displayed impulse resistance in one setting but not in another? How does one account for that?

The underlying answer is that people with more trust in the system will delay gratification because they know if they do they will be rewarded. The group that doesn't delay gratification can have two, or maybe more reasons why. They may genuinely not be able to delay gratification or exercise self control, but they may also not trust the other side of the deal to be kept up and therefore hedge themselves against getting ripped off by grabbing what they can, while they can. An example of this is telling a very hungry child from a poor country to delay gratification when presented with food...while this child may be demonstrated enormous willpower by walking across miles of desert or what have you, they'll immediately grab what they can. After a few test rounds, they'll come to understand that they can trust being told that there will be more food, because they've witness it. Extreme case but you get the point. I think this is talked about in Freakanomics, if I'm not mistaken.

The areas of psychology focused on analyzing hard data are pretty interesting once you dig in. PubMed. Check it out.

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Aug 12, 2018

thanks for this. care to show some of this research?

Aug 14, 2018
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Aug 15, 2018