I remember when I was in college. Most of my mates were buying expensive phones, shoes, and clothes. As for me, books, seminars, and my financial education were the only thing that mattered to me.
A few years after when I went into the business world, the first 8 years were years of no profit, and even the few years after then, were years of re-investment.
For over a decade, all I did was build a business and re-invest in everything, I mean, everything.
That’s called delayed gratification.
You see, one difficult thing everyone who has ever built wealth did to build wealth is to delay gratification.
If you want to know how difficult that is, look at the community where you’re living. See the cars, phones, and clothes people around you are using and compare that to their income. You’ll be surprised at how 98% of people are living their lives today.
They’ll rather buy that new car for $20,000 now than buy a used car and invest some cash. They would rather buy the latest iPhone and meet up with their poor peers than use an average phone.
Let the truth be told, it’s difficult to delay gratification. But without the ability to delay gratification, you cannot be rich.
In the 1960s, a Stanford professor named Walter Mischel began conducting a series of important psychological studies. During his experiments, Mischel and his team tested hundreds of children — most of who are around the ages of 4 and 5 years old — and revealed what is now believed to be one of the most important characteristics for success in health, work, and life.
The experiment began by bringing each child into a private room, sitting them down in a chair, and placing a marshmallow on the table in front of them.
At this point, the researcher offered a deal to each child.
He told the child that he was going to leave the room and that if he didn’t eat the marshmallow while he was away, then the child would be rewarded with a second marshmallow upon his return. However, if the child decides to eat the first one before he came back, then he would not get a second marshmallow.
So the choice was simple: one treat right now or two treats later.
The researcher left the room for 15 minutes.
As you can imagine, the footage of the children waiting alone in the room was rather entertaining. Some kids jumped up and ate the first marshmallow as soon as the researcher closed the door. Others wiggled and bounced and scooted in their chairs as they tried to restrain themselves, but eventually gave in to temptation a few minutes later. And finally, a few of the children did manage to wait the entire time.
Published in 1972, this popular study became known as The Marshmallow Experiment, but it wasn’t the treat that made it famous. The interesting part came years later.
The Power of Delayed Gratification
As the years rolled on and the children grew up, the researchers conducted follow-up studies and tracked each child’s progress in a number of areas. What they found was surprising.
The children who delayed gratification and waited to receive the second marshmallow at the time the experiment was conducted ended up having higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood to obesity, better responses to stress, better social skills as reported by their parents, and generally better scores in a range of other life measures.
The researchers followed each child for more than 40 years and over and over again, the group who waited patiently for the second marshmallow to succeed in whatever capacity they were measuring.
In other words, these series of experiments proved that the ability to delay gratification was critical for success in life.
But we actually don’t need scientific research to know this. We all know that if you can discipline yourself not to eat the corn, you have now you could plant it and have hundreds of corn in the next few weeks.
We all know that as a student, if you can discipline yourself not to waste time on campus pleasures, you can have more time to read and end up being a better student.
As young adults, we all know that if we could delay buying the latest phones, cars, and watches, we can invest some of those cash into something else that can make us richer in the future.
We all know the importance of delaying gratification. The only problem is that it’s not easy to do what we know we ought to do.
However, though it’s difficult, successful people discipline themselves to delay gratification.
So, how can you delay gratification so that you’ll become rich?
Let me share 3 simple tips that have helped me with you;
First, set inspiring goals
I started setting goals when I was around 16 and my life has never been the same. Because I had a goal of being the best student while in high school, I forgo the TV, movies, and excessive playing.
Similar thing at college and when I started out in the business world. Because goals are about tomorrow, people who set inspiring goals can easily forget today and delay gratification for tomorrow.
Second, don’t compare yourself with others
This is a big problem in our society today, especially because of social media. Most people simply compare what they have with what others have.
If you choose to live this way, you’ll always be under pressure to buy, use or do whatever everyone else is buying, doing, or using, which will not allow you to delay gratification.
Third, read books that will improve your self-esteem
In my experience, people with healthy self-worth can easily forget today because of tomorrow because these people know they are wonderful people, no matter what.
You see, the reason we want to eat our cakes right now is usually that we think that the cake will make us better individuals.
Think about millions of people all over the world who borrow money to buy cars they cannot afford. Why do they do it?
Look at people who must buy the latest iPhone, even though they don’t have the money. Why do they do it? It’s always because these people believe that buying those things will improve their image among their peers and family.
This is because they have low self-esteem. People with healthy self-esteem know that they are worth much, regardless of what they have or use today.
In summary, people who end up becoming rich are people who can delay gratification. You must be willing to forget today. You must be willing to let go of some things. It may be the TV, parties, the latest iPhone, the car, or the watches. You must forget today and invest in tomorrow if you truly want to be rich.