The Instant Gratifiaton Trap and Why You Need to Escape It

In the modern society, especially among the youngsters, it is a very common value that enjoying your life as much as you can now, being happy now and “living your life to the fullest” now is something that everyone should do. There is nothing wrong with these values, however the ways we understand these phrases are significantly corrupt. To enjoy your life, to live it to the fullest and to be happy is many times connected to the actions that lie inside our comfort zones, or simply to the things that make us feel better. How come? Doesn’t living your life to the fullest mean growing as a person and reaching for your goals and dreams – working towards them every day? That is what it is meant to mean. But if you ask an average person why they go out drinking 2-3 times a week, spend money on alcohol and spend time, the most valuable commodity we all have, in clubs and then in bed trying to get rid of the hangover instead of reading books, exercising and growing every day, the answer will be – “This is what makes me happy, I want to live my life to the fullest.” My next question would be, what about you in the next 5-10 years? How do you want to live your life in the future and what are you doing for it? Most people are not able to answer. So what’s wrong about this and why am I bringing this up? What went wrong is, most people in our society live on something called “instant gratification,” which is essentially focusing on their short-term happiness and completely forgetting about the longer run.

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Instant Gratification

This concept is something that is so engraved in the traditional way of thinking that it is almost a taboo talking about this. How come? This is because all the brands such as Mc’Donalds, KFC, Marlboro, Hennessy etc. are all based on this fundamental preference of many people. Let’s take the example of Marlboro. Marlboro is one of the most famous cigarette brands valued at 26.6B$ . Actually, we can take this a step further. The whole tobacco industry is based on instant gratification. What does that mean? It means that all their products are based on how they make you feel at the moment you use them.  They make people feel good at that specific moment, but they make them feel terrible in the long run. So how come people still use these products even though they know they will feel awfully bad later on, maybe even die as a result of using these products? The answer is – instant gratification.

This is how most people think, this is how most people’s brains are programmed. They want to feel good now and forget about the future and the brands like the ones I mentioned realise this fact and use it to their advantage. This is the reason we’re dealing with a huge amount of lung cancer patients that wouldn’t have to be so desperate if they would’ve understood the concept of instant gratification and how dangerous it really is.

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Delayed Gratification

So what should we do about this? How do I escape the trap of instant gratification? To start with, as with everything we teach, you first need a strong reason, a strong why you want to escape this trap. Be it your health, be it your dreams and goals, you need to figure out something that can motivate you internally, because external motivation can only take you so far. But what really matters is why you want to do this. Once you have figured out a strong why you should be able to see why trading long-term happiness for instant happiness kills your dreams in the long run. It is immensely important to understand that what you really want is usually something that takes lots of work and more importantly lots of personal growth.

Delayed gratification is the understanding of the fact that you need to do the hard work now in order to live the life you want to live later. This doesn’t mean that your next 5 years will be full of suffering. It means that your next 5 years should be years of growth and self-development. You can still hang out with your friends, if that is something that you feel like will personally develop you and push you towards your goals. But if you want to become the superstar football player and you want to train tomorrow in the morning, if you friends ask you to go out tonight you can guess what the best answer is (hint – sorry, I’ve got some goals to hunt). The concept of delayed gratification allows you to understand that each decision you make now needs to be made for the greater benefit in the long run. This is something we spoke about in one of our recent posts. If you want to learn how to make successful decisions, definitely do give it a read.

Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.

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The Magic of Successful Decisions

Watching the ultimate heroes of the recent world in terms of success. such as Gary Vaynerchuk, Grand Cardone or Richard Branson, we tend to think that they are extraordinary, that they are gifted in some way. Now that is correct and incorrect. It is incorrect to assume that they have some sort of ultimate gift, that they were born this way. They had to go through more hardships than most people in the world. That is why they are where they are right now. It is wrong to assume that they have some fixed characteristic we can’t develop. We talk about this kind of mindset more in-depth in our post about The Mindset for Success. On the flip side, we are correct in the sense that they are extraordinary. More specifically, the way they have learned to think, the thought processes they have developed are their ultimate weapon. In this post, we will look at some of these thought processes. We’ll answer the question, how should I make decisions? How do successful people think through their problems?

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The Why

The #1 reason people who you look up to so much succeed is that they have asked themselves the most important question. Why do I want to succeed? You need to identify the reason why you want to succeed. The most successful people on this planet are successful because they have found a solid reason the want to succeed. Let’s think about the next scenario as an example. Imagine 3 birds sitting on a cable. One of them decides to fly away. How many birds are there now? The answer is 3! The bird decided to fly away, he didn’t take action. Now imagine these 3 birds on a cable again. Suddenly, someone shoots one of them. How many birds are there now? The answer is – none! Why? Because the reason has changed. Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” You need to figure out the destination where you’re heading before you look for your way!!

 

Making Complicated Decisions

We tend to think that making the decisions on our way to success must be something very complicated. Successful people must be super smart right? It’s super complicated to succeed right? Is it actually? If you look at one skill that is in the core of progress that leads to your personal growth, it is seeing the effects of every little decision that you make in the long-term. This might look very complicated at first, but if you think about it in simple terms, it also becomes very straight-forward. The only question you need to focus on is – Where does this decision take me? Is it a step towards my goal or is it a step away from it? Let’s take an example. It’s Friday evening 7pm and you still need to finish your daily reading in order to sustain your habit practice you’ve started a few days ago. However, at the same time your friends called you to go out and have some fun with them. What should you do? This absolutely depends on your goals. You set your goal to create that habit of daily reading. This means that you need to read every day without a break. If you go out with your friends, you can start again. If your goal is long-term personal growth through the habit of reading, then this is the decision you need to make. On the other hand, if your goal was to make more friends or socialize and have fun, the other choice would be correct. How come? This kind of thinking is very important, yet fairly simple. You need to look at the choices you have and evaluate, which choice brings you closer to your goal and which choice takes you further away from it. Then, it logically follows that you take the choice that brings you closer to your goals, whatever it is.

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Application

Applying this kind of thinking is nothing complex, but it matters tremendously and most people do not understand that. It is so simple, yet nobody truly applies this method. The good news is that it is applicable on every little thing you can think of. Should I take a shower today? Since I want to become a successful entrepreneur, that requires me to hold my hygiene and health in check. Thus I shall take a shower. I want to save some money on bills, should I take a shower today? Maybe, I should only wash my face and save some water bills today and take a shower tomorrow (a very naughty but a simple instance). Make use of this method in your life and start making the decisions that will bring you closer to your long-term goals. Yes, long-term goals. Focus on the long-term. Short-term gratification is a trap most people fall into, but I’ll leave that for another post.

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24-Hour Days – A Myth or Reality?

There is a fairly well-known quote stating that “We all have the same 24 hours”, which aims to remind us that there is no time for excuses and that the somebody who got further than you simply used his 24 hours better. It is meant to remind us that excuses won’t take us anywhere closer to where we want to be and that we need to put in the work. However, there are philosophies that counter this ideology. They agree on the fact that physical day has 24 hours and that in order to be healthy and capable of productivity, we need to dedicate some times to sleep and other necessary activities that allow us to be productive. However, they argue that the 24-hours days, or in some cases more precisely, the 8-hours work days are just a consequence of the way we are traditionally taught to think. What does this mean? Are there actually more days in my 24 hours than I thought? Let’s make things clearer and learn how to utilize this way of thinking.Výsledek obrázku pro 24 hours suffering comic

The 8-hour work day myth

A typical work day of an average person in our society has 8 hours. Regardless of whether it is a 9-5 or a 10-6, it has about 8 hours. Have you ever thought about why that is? Let’s consider how our productivity works – I am sure you can relate to this. When you come to your job, you have a certain task. Think about it, could you simply finish that task in the first 3-4 hours with some brakes? The answer is usually something among the lines of: “Yeah I probably could, but I would have to really focus…” What does that mean? Would you rather focus for 3 hours with short brakes and finish your work in half the time, or would you rather spend 8 hours in your office slacking off most of the time? Let’s be honest here, even though you have 8 hours to finish you work, do you actually dedicate all of that time to the task?

Human productivity and focus

Most of you went through some kind of education at some point of your lives. Most of you had class schedules or had to memorize some “information” for a test. If you look at your school schedule, did you have 8 hours straight of classes? In your classes, did you actually spent the whole class focused on the materials? I didn’t. When you asked your tutor for revision advice, what was the first thing he told you? Make a schedule, make sure you have the time to rest. What is usually suggested is 30-40 minutes of focused work with 5-10 minute breaks for 90 minutes – try to take a look at your school schedule. Did you have a longer break after every 2nd or 3rd class? There is a reason why the more experienced teachers and tutors allow the students to have such brakes. The reason is the way our brains work! You can’t sustainably focus on a single task for more than 40 minutes without a brake. And if you do, your efficiency, quality of the work you do and the overall productivity starts decreasing!!

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How to handle productivity

So how should we work? What is the best way that allows us to stay focused on our tasks without reducing the amount of work we finish? The answer is fairly simple – spend 40-45 minutes working in a deep focus, take a 10 minute break (go for a walk, close your computer and talk to someone) and make sure you set up your timer so that you can come back exactly after 10 minutes, work for 40-45 minutes in a deep focus mode and then stop and take a longer brake. In order to be fully regenerated, you need to rest for at least an hour or an hour an a half. It is as simple as that! Make the most of your time and stop wasting it, thinking that you’re actually doing something.

 

The 3 days in 1 philosophy

So what does the 24-hour day have to do with anything? It is not the fact that a single day has 24 hours, it is the fact that we tend to think that in 1 day we can finish only a day’s worth of work. What if you learned to think in a way that every day contains 3 more days? What do I mean by that? It is very simple, in order to be as productive as possible and to use your time wisely without burning out, you mentally split your day into 3 days – which can be a metaphor for 3 working periods of time. For instance, when I’m preparing for my exams, I have 3 or sometimes 4 revision lessons in a day. One in the morning (90 minutes), one in the afternoon (90 minutes) and one in the evening (90 minutes). Sometimes, if I have less stuff to do outside of studying (like business meetings, sports activities etc.) I put in another 90 minutes. This gives me 4.5-6 hours of high quality focused work every day. With a proper plan, in these 4-6 hours, I am able to finish what most people do in 2-3 days. Why is that? Focus, planning and understanding how my body works.

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Bottom line

The bottom line is, try to reflect as much as you can and try out different methods. Figure our how your body works and adjust your daily schedule to that. One of the greatest powers a human being can have is understanding himself/herself. There is enough resources out there that can help you in that area, you only need to look. To read further on improving your productivity, check out our 80/20 principle post. To learn about the 10 greatest time wasters, check out our article on this topic.

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Self-management Sequence – 5 Steps To Success

What do I need to do to change? What do I need to start growing and claiming milestones in my life? These are the kinds of questions everyone asks and only a few can get themselves to the correct answer. It is fairly easy to understand some of the steps, but it is very hard to understand that there is a specific set of steps everyone has to follow (or follows unknowingly) in order to change and reach some level of success. Today, we’ll talk exactly about these 5 core steps! Let’s hop into it!


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Disclaimer

This is a success sequence from the book What to Say When You Talk to Yourself written by Shad Helmstetter Ph.D (yes, you’ve figured it out, I am currently reading this book – so I use a lot of concepts from it in the recent posts). For the sequence to work, you need to start at the beginning and finish at the end. Follow the steps in the correct order and it is inevitable that it will work for you.

Step 1 – Programming

Our brain works as a computer. Our belief system is created and controlled entirely by our programming. It is necessary for you to understand where you are at the moment, as most of us have been listening to a lot of “You can’ts” in our childhood and thus it is hard for us to imagine any kind of success taking place in our lives. This needs to change. You need to re-programme your subconscious mind from “I don’t think I can” to “What can stop me other than myself?” This takes regular maintenance of your thoughts, which is described in detail in our recent posts. In short, you need to change the way you talk to yourself in order to make your brain understand that you want to do things differently, and you need to change your environment  in order to ensure that what you’re consuming is helping you in the re-programming phase. To make things clearer, imagine a very simple scenario we all understand. Our brains work like computers – imagine the search tab in YouTube. When you search a specific song loads of times, it will then start appearing at the top of the previously searched videos (which appears before you start typing). However, if you search for a song only once or twice, this song will be somewhere at the bottom of that list (or not at all). This is how computers work, but it is also how our brains work. The more often you think something, the more it is likely to come up again. This works for negative thoughts as well.

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Step 2 – Beliefs

“Belief” does not require that something is the way we believe it is. It only requires us to believe that it is. Your belief system is ultimately set up by your programming. If you’ve been told that you can’t become an astronaut when you were young numerous times, you will believe that it is impossible for you now. Thus it follows that in order to change your beliefs, you need to change your brain programming. Beliefs are the constants in our minds. They are hard to establish, but also hard to get rid off. Unfortunately, like I said above, most of us need to do the latter. Once you reach the stage where you truly believe (for a longer period of time without any doubts) that you can succeed, that you can apply for that NASA recruitment programme, you can move to the next step. 

Step 3 – Attitude

Attitude is the perspective from which we see our lives. It is also created, controlled or influenced by our beliefs. When you believe you can become an astronaut, your attitude towards your preparations and progress towards that specific goal changes. You will be able to see the shift from “Why even bother” to “Let me figure out a way to make this happen” and even to “I’m doing this!” Be positive – is one of the most frequent tips people hear. But most answers to that usually involve something like “It isn’t as simple as that” or “You can’t just flip a switch and become positive thinking.” And you know what? That is completely right. You can’t do it, unless you have already completed the first two steps!

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Step 4 – Feelings

Every action we take is first filtered through our feelings. How we feel about something will always determine or affect what we do and how well we do it. It is inevitable. You need to learn to love the process. How do you do that? Through your attitude. When you really learn to enjoy growing, seeing the challenges and overcoming them, you will finally stop doubting everything. You will stop holding yourself back, you will be able to leave your comfort zone, which is the only reason you still are where you are. 

Step 5 – Behavior

Your actions need to work for you, not against you. Behavior is what we do, but also what we don’t do. Make sure you understand that inaction is also a behavior you can control. Behavior is the final step of the sequence. Like everyone says, being all ready and knowledgable about success is all nice and well, but action is the differentiator. No action, no behavior leads to no results. However, you can not skip the first four steps if you want to have sustainable success. You can do something unusual, you can take action without going through the sequence, but then there are only 2 ways this can go. Either you end up giving up at some point after some time, or you will have gone through the sequence subconsciously anyways.

There you go. You wanted the single most important advice out there? This is it. Make decisions that will bring you closer to your goals, as opposed to making the decisions that bring you further. AND follow this sequence. Nothing can stop you, if you do that.

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Speaking your dreams into existence

Dreams, vision, faith, goals, all of these concepts are crucial for your growth. All of these concepts are necessary for you to succcessfully change, develop as a person and finally achieve what you desire the most. But having these in your mind alone will not lead to your final victory. It will not help you get there. These are only the partial ingredients to your success cake, but they will never stick together without one simple thing – action. The question loads of people ask then is, well how do I take action? How do I make myself take action? The answer to this question is to be found in the discipline of psychology. You need to understand how your brain works before you can make it change and develop. This is the moment when one of the powers everyone has, but rarely anyone uses properly comes in. That is, the power of the spoken word.

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Welcome to your brain

Before you get to the stage where you can take action without looking back, you need to exercise your most powerful weapon that separates you from everything living on this planet – your brain. The issue here is the way the world around us is set up, which results in a traditional way most kids grow up these days. And that way is unfortunately not very positive. According to Shad Helmsetter, Ph.D. who wrote an excellent book about this topic called What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, more than 70% of the things people hear in their childhood are negative. These are usually in some form of: “You can’t do this” or “You are not good enough to do this”. You might not hear these specific sentences, but these are the general messages the kids’ brains receive. So first, to be able to take action on your dreams, you need to re-programme your brain. This involves a ton of effort and most importantly, habits and repetition.

Repetition and Habit Creation

Our lives are mostly run on habits and on subconscious, repetitive actions. Why is that? Aren’t we all supposed to have a free will of our own? I definitely do everything on purpose, my actions are all conscious – is what you might be thinking. But, do you really? It is said that an average person makes about 40 thousand decisions every day. Do you really make all these decisions consciously? (clue – no!) Our lives are run on habits. In other words, our lives are, from the greatest part, run by our subconscious mind. The most successful people realise that and make use of it. Jeff Bezos makes approximately 3-4 major decisions every day and the rest is delegated or subconscious (such as his morning and his evening routine). Check out our post on how to create and utilise a habit  to learn more about this specific area. Now to the point. Since our subconscious mind runs our lives, it is crucial for us to know how to control it (a.k.a. how to programme out brains). Doing this is definitely a matter of habit and repetition, as I’ve already mentioned above. Changing the way you think, changing the way you feel and the way other things affect you is completely in your power. You only need to change one enormous part of your life that you might not even be aware of.

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Watch how you speak… to yourself!!

The number one thing that affects your subconscious mind incredibely, which nobody really realises, is your mouth (inside your head). All day, it runs and runs and never stops. Everytime you think about something, it goes off. Why is it so important to control it? Because, as it is mentioned earlier, the only kind of things it can speak now is negativity. This is too boring, this is too salty, this is too cold, this is such a terrible day, this will never work.. Why do I look so weird today? I bet she/he thinks I’m stupid! Who am I to even try? You might not realise this, but this is what happens in your head all the time. And it’s not even your fault, it is the way you’ve grown up, the media you’ve consumed, the people that influenced you – the world you live in. This is all done subconsciously, it is a habit. Now what should we do about it? Your main concern is not getting rid of the negativity, but outnumbering it with positivity.

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Speak your dreams into existence

How do I outnumber negativity if it’s already there though? Instead of thinking negative stuff, you think positive. You specifically need to focus on the good things around yourself. In every adversity lies a seed of an equal or a greater opportunity. Speak what you want in life. Read the next few lines out loud (if possible shout them, it feels much better then):

I am me, nobody can put me down. I am grateful for what I have in my life. I am grateful for (fill in what you’re grateful for). I am grateful for (fill in what you’re grateful for). I am in the process of succeeding. I am growing every day. I am developing every day. I am making it happen. I am (fill in your aspiration). I am (your aspiration). I am (your aspiration).

I bet it felt great, didn’t it? Do you know why? Because you yourself said it, you yourself brought positivity into that moment. Imagine that this is how you would think every day, every moment, every second. Make this a habit, do it every morning and every evening. Whenever you think about a negative thing, speak out two positive things to outnumber it. You are in control of that. You can take the charge. You can start looking for positivity to outnumber the negativity that has grown in you. You can do it. Make this a habit, make your subconscious mind accept that your life is wonderful, full of positive things.

Now back to the start. As you start seeing the positivity in your life, watch your actions change. Your actions will change as a result of the way you think. You will feel better and you will do better. This is the power of the spoken word.

 

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