“The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term is the indispensable prerequisite for success.”
Maxwell Maltz, doctor, self-help guru, and author of Psycho-Cybernetics.’
I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept lately – not just in my Shrinkin efforts, but generally. Yesterday, in a
boring riveting conference call for work, I googled “weight loss success blogs” and scanned lots of them. (Yes, I really can multitask that well. Srsly.) One thing leapt out at me: for all the ones I saw where there was someone losing 100+ lbs, or who had lost 100+ lbs, there was AT LEAST one (and often many) references to the individual in question not being a patient person. Some said it cute, some said it angry, but everyone said it. Hell, I’ve said it: patience and I are NOT pals.
And then overnight I got some comments from Jim (Hi, Jim!) both of which were focused on Tom Venuto lists, both of which really dealt with delayed gratification. I can take a hint, Universe. This is something I should think about.
So here’s my feeling on delayed gratification. Is it essential to success? Well, yes. I am successful in a lot of other areas in my life. This is an anonymous blog, so I can even be candid wiht you that I feel successful in MOST areas of my life. I got through undergrad with a great GPA and a great resume, got through Career 1 with a great reputation and great promotions, got through law school with more great GPA and resume, landed awesome job, have awesome husband, have amazing kids. The list of things at which I have failed is very small. But the head of the list is, be at a happy weight and size.
Well, when I wanted to read a book, or shop, or just hang out, but I had homework to do, I had NO PROBLEM seeing that if I took the easy way out Now, I will pay for it Then. It didn’t feel like I was delaying gratification because the two seem unrelated to me. Same with hubs: I might not be otherwise inclined to play video games, but I know if I don’t make an effort to stay connected to HIS interests, I will regret it. It isn’t a quid pro quo, it isn’t being patient, it is just the simple fact that the cost of not doing something that may have little/no appeal at that time will be greater down the road than I am willing to pay.
And that’s the key: it would cost me something. Cost me good grades, or a job, or closeness in my relationship that I currently enjoy.
With weight loss, I don’t HAVE something I am trying to preserve. I don’t have this awesome bod that I dont’ want to mess up, or a decent time on the 5K, or anything like that. Instead, I am “buying” something. If I don’t do these unpleasant (or at least not appealing at the moment) things, like eat packets instead of lunch Mexican or rolls with dinner, it wont’ COST me anything. Things will merely stay at the status quo. And while I do not LIKE the status quo as far as my weight/size goes, it isn’t SO bad here, is it…? And so on.
So I am thinking. Hmm. How to turn this around in my head? I have to start thinking of making the
virtuous right healthy choice with food as preserving the status quo – which is me, feeling better and getting smaller, no matter how incrementally. And deviating from that will cost me terribly – it will cost me hard-won pounds (back on), pride, and truly derailing myself means I have to start this whole detox and feel better part over again. So I don’t want that!
And I am also going to start thinking of every choice as money. It can go in the savings account, so that I can save up for a
rockin acceptable body and increased health and energy, or I can flush it down the toilet.
Is that delayed gratification? Kinda, but not the way I first understood it.