Delayed Gratification

There are things, in the here and now, that I want. I want comic books, I want cupcakes. I want a new iPhone.  But, because I’m a good little do-bee, I balance the checkbook before I go gallivanting off to shop.

There are big things that I want in the future.  These conflict with the things that I want right now.  If I bought that iPhone, I’d be weaseling the money out of important places – like paying off debts or the honeymoon fund.

So, I don’t buy those things I want. I stay home. I do without. Because I want to pay off debts and go on a fabulous honeymoon way more than I want cupcakes.

I can do this with money, because I’ve practiced it since I got my first waitressing job when I was 14.  I know to leave little reminders in my checkbook “Saving for X!” so I know that while the money might be there, it isn’t really okay to spend it.

While instant gratification can feel great in the short term (and I’m not above impulse buys – which is why I stay home), I know that delayed gratification can sometimes have a bigger payoff.  I understand the way pennies in a jar can accumulate into something significant – that’s how I paid my college tuition for more than one semester.

If I’ve applied these lessons to my financial life, why on earth can’t I seem to get it together anywhere else?

  • five minutes of housekeeping per day would result in a cleaner house
  • writing every day adds up into a completed story
  • working out for 25 minutes will make me feel healthier and happier
  • counting calories really can result in weight loss

Why don’t I appreciate the value of taking baby steps in these other areas of my life?

There are days when the incremental, tiny growth is not enough for me. I want BAM! I finished a story. POW! My house is spotless. ZAP! I’ve lost 5 pounds.  Life doesn’t work that way. It’s a series of small changes, small steps, that incrementally add up into something different.

I need to consider this more. I think it ties into some of the habit work I’m doing.


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