“Never give up what you want most for what you want today.” Neal Maxwell

Research suggests that People with This One Quality Are More Likely to Succeed in ALL areas of Life

What is that Quality?

-Delayed Gratification-

The experiment was deemed “The Marshmallow Experiment”

The study started 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.

The researcher then offered a deal to the child.

He explained that he was going to leave the room and that if the child did not eat the marshmallow while he was away, then they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. However, if they to eat the first one before the researcher came back in the room, then they 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.

No surprise, some kids jumped up and ate the first marshmallow as soon as the researcher closed the door. Others wiggled and squirmed in their chairs as they tried to restrain themselves, but eventually gave in to temptation a few minutes later. And at last, a few of the children did manage to wait the entire time.

Published in 1972, this popular study became even more interesting as the years rolled on.

The Power of Delayed Gratification

As the years went by children grew up, the researchers conducted follow up studies and tracked each child’s progress in several areas. What they found was surprising.

The children who who delayed gratification and waited to receive the second marshmallow ended up having higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood of obesity, better responses to stress, better social skills as reported by their parents, and generally better scores in a range of other life measures. (You can see the follow up studies herehere, and here.)

They followed each child for more than 40 years and over and over again, those who waited patiently for the second marshmallow succeed in so many different areas of life.

A perfect demonstration that the ability to delay gratification is critical for success in life.

And if you look around, you’ll see this playing out everywhere…

  • If you delay the gratification of surfing the internet and get your homework done now, then you’ll learn more and get better grades.
  • If you delay the gratification of buying desserts and chips at the store, then you’ll eat healthier when you get home.
  • If you delay the gratification of finishing your workout early and put in a few more reps, then you’ll be stronger.

… and so many other examples.

Success usually comes down to choosing the discomfort of discipline over the ease of distraction. And that’s exactly what delayed gratification is all about.

This brings us to an interesting question: Did some children naturally have more self-control, and thus were pre-set for success? Or can you learn to develop this helpful trait?

Develop it You CAN!!! Yoda I am not however, we can train our ability to delay gratification, just like we can train our muscles in the gym.  Small regular improvements and habits can build this trait.

Over time, delaying gratification will improve your self-control and ultimately help you achieve your long-term goals faster.

So what is the KEY? To find success we need to be disciplined enough to take action! Don’t allow doing what’s easy to over shadow our real desires! Do the work. Put in the reps.  Focus on what really matters and say no to what really doesn’t.  Let’s own the week!


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