Life Lessons Productivity Unmuted Thoughts

Is instant gratification bad? How long I can postpone my gratification?

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If I wait for longer, will I be rewarded big? Is really instant gratification bad?

“We often make choices based on immediate outcomes. What can I do to experience a little joy in the next 30 minutes? What can I accomplish in the next hour?

But if you always expect to get a little bit of reward for a little bit of effort, then you often overlook actions that lead to greater payoffs down the road. The relationship between input and output is rarely linear.

The course of action that could provide greater happiness, meaning, or satisfaction in the long run may not make you happy in the next 30 minutes.”

By James Clear

There’s always a trade-off.

The trade-off here is whether you want it doubled for waiting or halved for hasting.

In my opinion, the idea is oversimplified.

Compounding (interest) effect! I see compounding takes place everywhere. Even with laziness and procrastination. Where do you want that compounding to take effect?

Compounding implies many more things rather than focusing only on doubling ROI.

You need to choose a few projects. (Few) seeds may turn into a tree. Not all seeds turn into a tree. Choose few, Choose wisely. Choose based on the returns a project may give.

We only have limited willpower. To work without feeling that small appreciation, those small motivating rewards is stressful and difficult. To keep on going, you need that willpower of yours. It is the costliest resource in the world, even costlier than time. Non-rewarding tasks have the potential to deplete your willpower in no time. That’s why you need to work on very few long-term projects.

Postponing rewards and procrastination are two different things. Postponing gratification is not postponing a task at hand. You’re not delaying anything here. You’re just working without expecting of those small rewards and always aiming that big one at the corner of your eye.

Getting instant gratification is not necessarily a bad thing. Getting a few rewards instantly is not a bad sign that you won’t get a big reward. But remember, you should not choose your work based on what gives your reward quickly. The quick rewards are usually small and kind of satisfactory for the moment. This satisfaction has the power to turn off your spirit to do big and more.

Always remember why you started it. Most people couldn’t keep up with their plans, that has a long way to reach their goals. When working without rewards, it might make you work monotonously. Sometimes it pushes you to the negative side of the feelings about the work and even on yourself for choosing it.

I had times where I even forgot why I started working on a project. Eventually, I drop it in middle or continue without knowing why I am doing it and what for. If I am not dropping it, I would be going on the deviated path. I overcome this by noting down the purpose of the project and reminding myself every week.

If the purpose you have is so strong, then you will get the energy to work on the next day even when you’re all sucked up the last day. The purpose will indirectly remind your big reward which acts as a motivation. Remembering purpose also tells you what to do next and keeps on tract like a light at the end of a cave.

So again, How long can I postpone my gratification? Maybe never. When you’re rewarded, enjoy it. Just don’t dwell with it and never choose your next task for instant gratification.

Do the work for the sake of it. The completion of work itself is a reward provided if you’re working in a meaningful project.

End of thoughts.

About the author

Sakthitharan Subramanian

Systems Thinker | Academic Researcher | Productivity Enthusiast | Loves Minimalism, Philosophy | Ph.D. in Computer Science |