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Perhaps this might not be the most suitable column for this time of year as it’s summer vacation and most are out from school or work and it will be some time before there’ll be any need to look at productivity. However, I’ve been thinking lately that I’m not good at making decisions that my future self will thank me for later. It is unfortunate because being a good student entails being able to put off fun things for a while in place of tasks of more priority.
Enter delayed gratification which is not accepting a reward in exchange for a better one after a while.
I came across this term while reading The Marshmallow Experiment, which looked at self-control and the effects it has on various aspects of life.
In the experiment, several children were presented with a treat of choice, such as a marshmallow (hence the name of the experiment), and were promised two if they waited some time.
Their ability to wait, or lack thereof, helped psychologist Walter Mischel who spearheaded the experiment to study the underlying aspects of exerting willpower. These children were followed into adulthood to see if their initial successes or failures at waiting for a second treat had any implications on how successful they were when it came to health and fitness, relationships and so on.
Reading about what is possibly one of the best studies on human self-control did little to improve my own, but the subject of delayed gratification has stuck with me because turning down a fun prospect in lieu of working towards attaining more promising results in the future is a basic tenet of successful living.
From the book, one way of delaying gratification includes finding distractions and keeping yourself occupied. Hopefully some of you readers find this tip helpful for achieving any summer goals!