A few years ago, a good friend and I were having breakfast. We were catching up on the usual things, work, family and friends. We started talking about our children, and she said something that stuck in my mind. She mentioned that her daughter, who was in her early twenties, had discovered the importance of delayed gratification. Her daughter had experienced a few situations where she had to make some tough decisions. She had to weigh the pros and cons of acting now, against the pros and cons of waiting. Her daughter found that the hardest thing to do was to wait. However, the wisest decision was to delay her actions, in hopes of achieving a better outcome.
For example, you see a designer purse that you’ve been wanting for a long time. The sales clerk lets you know that the purse will be going on sale in a month. Do you purchase the bag now or wait until it goes on sale, risking the chance that the purse may not be available in a month?
For millennials – those born between 1982-2000, ‘waiting’ may be a difficult concept to accept, since they’ve grown up in an ‘instant’ society. Millennials are accustomed to getting things quickly and receiving instant gratification. They grew up with microwaves, fast food, email, texting, cell phones and camera phones. If there’s any decision that needs to be made, all two hundred of their friends will know about it and are discussing it in a group chat. Because of their need for instant gratification, they may not have learned important life lessons such as budgeting, planning, and most importantly, patience.
Delayed gratification is a skill that every millennial would benefit from learning. There are steps that should be taken when deciding whether to take immediate action or to delay acting on an impulse.
Explore: Do your research. Before making a hasty decision, take the time to learn as much as possible about the situation, product or choice you need to make.
Evaluate your options: Think about the pros and cons of your situation; While your heart may be saying get it now, consider the financial and long term impact of acting on an impulse. Ask yourself, will I benefit better by waiting?
Execute your plan: After thoughtful consideration, make a plan and set the date to execute it. During the waiting period, continue to prepare yourself to be in the best possible position at the time of execution.
Patience, the ability to wait for something without complaining, is a very desirable character trait. In a post written by Omar Kiam, he states ”those who have learned to overcome the need for instant gratification understand that it is better to wait for tomorrow to take the full reward, than taking a small sample today.”