In the famous Stanford experiment, researchers promised a second marshmallow to young children, if they didn’t eat their first one for fifteen minutes. The children who were able to delay gratification had greater success later in their lives. The marshmallow experiment is a challenge for children and a great metaphor for adults.
The ability to delay gratification requires a lot of willpower, especially in this day and age. We live in the age of instant gratification. We don’t need a cinema, TV, or a PC anymore. We have an endless stream of videos, social media updates, and games available on our smartphones. Kudos to you for reading a text-only blog right now.
“Willpower is one of the most important predictors of success in life.” Roy Baumeister
Accomplishing anything significant requires long term thinking. However, we want overnight results. We don’t want to start any endeavor that might take more than a year to complete. We dream about short term rewards.
- What am I going to eat for dinner?
- What am I going to do in the weekend?
- Where am I going to go for the next summer vacation?
However, success and satisfaction comes from tackling long term challenges.
- I want to build a prosperous business in the next 10 years.
- I want to end the world hunger in the next 25 years.
- I want to live a great life in the next 50 years.
Do you have no idea how to set challenging long term goals? Ask yourself the following questions.
- What do you want to be proud of at the end of your life?
- What do you want to have achieved?
- What are all the things that you want to experience in this lifetime?
Now, think about the next ten years. What could you achieve in the next ten years if you gave it your best shot? Ten years is a long time. You can achieve some extraordinary feats. Is ten years too long for you to work on a goal? Remember, those years are going to pass anyway.
The more long term you think, the more you’re going to achieve. You can train your brain to think long term. Willpower is like a muscle that gets stronger as you train. Start by posting your long term goals somewhere you can see every day. That will keep you stay focused and increase your productivity. And if you feel like giving in to instant gratification, remember the marshmallows.
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.