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Monday, January 14, 2013

Delayed Gratification

I like everything right now.  Fast food, quick oats, instant downloads.  

I am a product of this technological world coupled with a little bit of unhealthy entitlement. I had several pretty rotten things happen to me in the past. I dug my way out, moved on, moved up, and for years now it seems I want what I want - when I want it. And when I want it is right now and I feel entitled to it. 

This is a pattern that has played out a time or two in my life and I figure 2013 is as good a time as any to really address it.  I just turned 47.  Maybe it's time to tackle this last leg of growing up? I think so. 

Typically people keep doing what they do until it no longer works for them. Instant Gratification is no longer working for me. What I think I want now keeps derailing what I truly want long term.  

  • This cheesecake vs. an apple (long term derailment:  weight loss)
  • Surfing the Internet an extra hour vs. hitting the treadmill (long term derailment: fitness and enjoying my life)
  • This must-have QVC special vs. self control (long term derailment: financial strength and security as well as money for traveling in retirement)
When I quit smoking, the hardest part was feeling a craving to go smoke immediately and just sitting with that feeling and not acting on it. Up until that point, when anything happened in my life (happiness sadness, boredom, procrastination, success, etc.) my instant reaction was to light up a cigarette.  It gave me a sense of instant control and could instantly calm, numb, or distract me.  But long term, smoking was killing me.

I learned during that process that sitting with feelings, however, won't kill me.  They are just feelings.  They do not require action and it's okay to feel them without doing anything. There is a window of time between feeling a feeling, or something happening, and how I choose to respond.  And it doesn't have to be instant.  I get to make that judgment. I can feel a feeling and respond later.  Or not respond at all!

That wonderful insight that I learned and applied to quitting smoking doesn't amount to anything, though, since I am no longer applying it.  Steven Covey writes “ learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.” ― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.  

So now what?  Well, you can't fix what you don't acknowledge and I acknowledge that my quest for instant gratification (what I want now while sabotaging what I really want later) is the single biggest barrier to achieving all I can achieve in this lifetime.  So I'm calling it out.  Then what?

Covey also writes about success: "The key is taking responsibility and initiative, deciding what your life is about and prioritizing your life around the most important things." I believe if I make clear, unambiguous goals, write them down, and look at them often, then as I am making those "next right choices" throughout the day they will more easily fall in line with those long term goals.  

By not setting clear goals, my choices only FEEL right in the moment because they are meeting an instant need or desire.  By setting clear goals and keeping them in the forefront, my choices will BE right because they are in line with what I truly want, regardless of how I am feeling in the moment.

I think I get it.  I am going to spend some time working this one into a plan because like he said, learning and knowing is useless without implementation.


1 comment:

  1. I needed this one today, Carly. Thank you.


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