Become More Successful Through Delayed Gratification

Learning to delay gratification can make you happier and more successful in both your personal and professional life. Psychological studies confirm what many traditions have long taught about the power of mental training: a little self-discipline can yield great results!

Here are some of the benefits of waiting for what you want, as well as techniques for becoming more patient.

Benefits of Delaying Gratification

  1. Improve your academic and job performance. Studies show that kids who learn to delay gratification get better grades and higher SAT scores. These gains usually continue throughout life, making them more satisfied and successful in their careers as well.
  2. Enhance your relationships. As our patience increases, we become less vulnerable to anger and its tendency to drive others away from us. We learn to look at the big picture and take other’s feelings into account.
  3. Become more physically fit. Studies also show that those less practiced at delayed gratification, or “low delayers,” tend to have higher body fat. If you appreciate the long term benefits of nutritious food and regular exercise, you’re less likely to overindulge in junk food.
  4. Lower your risk of substance abuse. Drug addiction can be one of the most painful consequences of seeking immediate pleasure. Even legal activities like shopping or watching TV can be destructive if we take them to extremes and allow them to crowd out more meaningful endeavors.
  5. Enjoy more contentment. Self control enables us to set goals and focus our energies on reaching them. We can make better choices, accomplish more and handle setbacks better.

Techniques for Delaying Gratification

  1. Recognize the complexity of your mind. Many mental health experts now speak in terms of interactions rather than fixed personality traits. Try to identify the circumstances where you have trouble resisting temptation rather than labeling yourself as being weak. This can be helpful in making constructive changes in your life.
  2. Divert your attention. Just turning your attention away from the cheesecake or the remark you find annoying will instantly make you a little happier and better behaved. The more you learn to control your thinking, the wiser you will become.
  3. Take a pause. Pausing for a second can help you avoid reflexive responses that run against your best interests. Decide if it’s more important to see your kids or spend another hour at the office. Take that morning run rather than sleeping for another half hour if the exercise gives you more energy and keeps you healthier.
  4. Think ahead. You can live in the moment and still be responsible about planning for the future. Find the balance that works for you.
  5. Experiment with visualization. When you’ve fallen in love with a pair of shoes that are too much for your budget, picture them as just a picture lacking any real substance. They’ll be easier to forget.
  6. Contemplate impermanence. If such visualizations sound artificial, think about impermanence. Those $400 shoes could get scuffed the first time you wear them, but setting that money aside for retirement could give you a much better future.
  7. Seek out good role models. Child psychologists find peer modeling to be a highly effective tool for character education. Whatever your age, pick up some valuable lessons by observing someone whose patience you admire.
  8. Reinforce your new habits. Self control grows stronger the more we practice. Have fun finding the strategies that work best for you. Look for daily opportunities to delay gratification, whether it’s a monthly savings plan or transforming those late night snacks into a more nutritious breakfast.

Throughout your life, you’re likely to spend a lot of your time waiting, so you might as well become good at it. Being able to delay gratification is one of the most important qualities you need to reach your goals. Fortunately, this is a skill that improves with practice!

Change Your Life in 30 Days

Significantly changing your life in 30 days really is possible, although not always easy. But even though this adventure is often a big challenge, the payoffs can be enormous.

We’ve all taken on challenges of one sort of another for 30 days. Maybe you tried a diet or an exercise program. Perhaps you decided to give up TV for 30 days. Even if you didn’t stick with the program long-term, the results were great, weren’t they? Now imagine if you expanded that idea to incorporate many areas of your life.

This program includes implementing several 30-day challenges simultaneously. You can use these suggestions or develop your own. Try creating a 30-day challenge from each category, and see where your new adventures lead you.

    1. Adjust your finances. Making more money or spending less is always a good financial theme. Alternatively, you might try balancing your accounts each day.
    2. Kick start your physical health. Diet, exercise, or combinations of both are great places to start. You could begin with something as simple as the doing the 20-minute yoga program that’s on TV every morning or taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator.
    3. Eliminate a time waster. Think about the amount of time you spend watching TV, surfing the Internet, window-shopping, playing video games, or lurking on Facebook. We all know the activities we tend to engage in when we’re bored or trying to avoid dealing with life’s challenges. Try getting rid of just one, and see how much more time you have!
    4. Add in another positive activity. Come up with something more enriching or satisfying than the time waster you’re eliminating. Maybe reading or taking a class would be in order. Perhaps you’ll spend all your newly found time playing a musical instrument.
    5. Commit to something else that appeals to you. Perhaps checking your email only 3 times a week or going to bed by 11:00 every night would be a beneficial habit you’d enjoy.

Tips for Success in Your Program

Now that you have some idea of changes you might want to make, how can you stick to them?

Try these ideas:

    1. Get enough sleep. If you set a challenge of cutting two hours of sleep each night (or even just one hour!), it’s going to make everything else more difficult. Regardless of whatever time-related goals you may set, allow yourself the 7-8 hours a night that you deserve.
    2. Set goals that you can do daily, seven days a week. Creating a new habit with an activity you only do 3 times a week is often much harder. Try to keep all new activities limited to ones you can do every day.
    3. Prepare ahead of time. Have everything you need in advance. Eliminate anything that might get in the way. For example, if you’re trying to follow a specific diet, buy the food you’ll need beforehand and get rid of food you want to avoid. You can’t break down and eat that bag of chips if there aren’t any chips in the house!
    4. Plan on social support. Tell your goals to your friends or family members that will support you in your efforts. Be careful in whom you confide. Changing is a challenge in itself. Success is harder if others are making unsupportive comments.

Trying to change several aspects of your life simultaneously may require other changes as well, depending on your chosen goals. All of our behaviors tend to interact with other behaviors, which can make changing any of them a demanding task.

For example, if you give up TV and junk food, and those are your main coping mechanisms for life’s challenges, you’re going to have to deal with your negative feelings a new way. Or better yet, you can face your concerns head-on. The distractions you’re used to falling back on may have just been ways to avoid the issues at hand.

To work this program, choose the 30-day challenges you can implement and get started. Remember to adequately prepare. If you can create several new positive habits and get rid of a few bad ones, your life will change dramatically for the better.

Five Everyday Activities to Protect Your Physical Health

Does your body ever feel stiff or sore? As we go through the motions of our often sedentary activities, it can be easy to forget that our bodies need tending too. With just a little conscious thought, you can increase your physical well being today.

Incorporate these easy activities into your daily routines to help keep your body healthy:

    1. Stand up and stretch. Whether you’re home watching TV or at work behind your desk, sitting for long periods can really take its toll, especially on your back. To ensure that you stay healthy and flexible:

    • Avoid slouching in the chair or couch if you have to sit for long periods.

    • Take a 1-minute break every 30 minutes to walk around and stretch your legs and back muscles.

    • Support your back. Perhaps you would be more comfortable in different chair. You may also find that a lumbar cushion or back brace would be helpful.

    2. Avoid spending hours at the computer. Your job may require you to work at a computer all day. However, no matter how busy you are, you can take a moment or two every hour to rest your eyes. Here are some suggestions to ease your eyes:

      • Use an anti-glare screen to decrease contrast.

      • Take frequent breaks and rest your gaze out a window or at far-away object. Relaxing your eyes will help you avoid eyestrain.

      • Ensure that you have good lighting; there should be light around your monitor, and even behind it. Avoid using the computer in the dark!

      • Minimize the amount of clutter around your monitor. Your eyes have more work to do when there are excess items in your frame of vision.

        3. Lift with your legs. As we go through “the motions” on a daily basis, we often overlook the impact small things can have on our physical health. For example: how we lift. Like most of us, you may forget sometimes that lifting with your back can cause damage. Try to remain conscious of this fact to protect your body.

          • Bend at the knees, not at the waist to take the pressure off your sensitive back muscles and prevent unnecessary damage.