The Importance of Delayed Gratification

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a study conducted by Walter Mischel became one of the most cited examples of delayed gratification for a greater purpose. It is called the Marshmallow Test.

Simple as it sounds, it is about a bowl of marshmallow shown to a child. The researcher told the child to wait for him until he returns. If the bowl of marshmallow is still untouched the moment the researcher comes back, the child will receive more marshmallow. The child then distracted himself by thinking that he will receive more if he will not touch it. Then the researcher came back and rewarded the child. 

I am sure that it is not your first time hearing this story. It has been on some of the children stories.

The story may be as simple as a moral lesson for children. However, it is more than that. In every situation, we are always faced with two sides. The first one is the short-term satisfaction–the one where we usually choose band-aid solutions and temporary comfort.  We try to ease the moment and avoid the pain. The second one is delaying the gratification and waiting for a greater purpose to be served.

The concept of delaying our gratification is best known in the field of psychology. It can be applied in several domains like food, physical pleasure, social interaction and even on financial matters. This idea is now being applied in financial counselling especially for those individuals who cannot help themselves from buying unnecessary things or what we call as impulsive purchases. Buying things out of your present desire might not be a good thing to practice. First reason is maybe you are just being carried away for the moment. Another is maybe you think that you really need it now, when in fact it can be purchased later.

Your purchase habit says a lot about you. If you are that type of individual who immediately buy things out of urgency, then you have to slow things down. In some cases, people who do not delay their impulses end up having a chaotic and messy financial budget. On the other hand, success comes with time. Some people fail to see the importance of patience and waiting. The value of delaying your gratification teaches you a lot about saving money. It helps your budget become stable by not getting into ambush shopping and hangouts. Another, your skill in saving for something is also being practiced.

No one is in the right position to tell you what to buy and what not to, but yourself. If you want something, try contemplating. Think of its significance and if you want to have that thing, give yourself some time to save. Your determination for saving towards it has something to say. If you are eager to purchase that, you will consistently think and save for it. However, if you forget it sooner or later, that means you loses now your interest to buy it. It only means to say that you have saved money for something more important in the near future. That is the value of delayed gratification we must all learn. This is somehow related to the 7 Day Rule.

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