Instant Gratification vs. Long Term Goals

In a world of fast food, five minute meals, fast lanes, “buy it now,” smart cars, smart phone, instant feedback through Facebook, Instagram, instant connecting through LinkedIn, and apps for everything we get derailed with satisfying every need the moment it comes into our heads. We become addicted to the satisfied feeling which results from getting what we want when we want it, even to the point of getting irritated when we have to wait or display patience.

Instant gratification is the desire to realize or fulfill a need immediately. Alternatively, long term goals take extensive planning. How does the need for instant gratification impact long term goals and are they mutually exclusive?

The most common examples of instant gratification manifest themselves through spending and health. A shopping spree can satisfy instant gratification, rewarding us, yet threaten long term financial goals. Choosing to have that piece of cake or sitting on the couch versus going for a run or to the gym threatens our long term health and fitness goals.

How do we find a happy medium?

Take Control This is the part where you plan out your long term goals, write them down, develop action steps to keep you moving in the right direction. By taking control of your goals, creating a clear picture of what they are and how to achieve them, it is easier to make the right decisions in each moment.

Be Aware Be mindful on a day to day basis of the plethora of impulses coming in your direction. Filter through them by being aware of the impact they will have on your short term action steps and your long term goals. Will buying those shoes threaten your goal of saving for a vacation, or house? Are you willing to sacrifice your fitness goals with that piece of pie?

Be spontaneous! Spontaneity is important to the concept of instant gratification in that a person receives a similar instant feeling of fulfilment. By adding moments of spontaneity to your day or week you get the same feeling without busting your goals. Allow yourself pockets of time to be spontaneous be it winging those dinner plans, taking that random afternoon drive to check out a local town, have a picnic, try out a new activity or set aside a reasonable amount of money and check out a new local shop. Create the parameters for your spontaneity and run with it. If you have specific fitness goals, take a class that you’ve never tried before. This still works with your goals but allows you to try something new and be spontaneous in your activity.

It is absolutely possible to handle instant gratification. Taking control of your goals gives you an acute awareness of how day to day decisions will impact those goals and through spontaneity you can add back that immediate satisfaction.

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