That phrase is usually means bad things. Suddenly, you’re worried about being late for work or unable to complete your chores. Whenever I hear the word “delay” it has SUCH a negative connotation that I want to avoid whatever it is.
Delayed gratification, however, is supposed to be a GOOD thing. People who can delay gratification are far more successful than those who never learned that skill. I talked about it here:
That’s all well and good, but HOW do we learn how to delay gratification? The definition of it seems pretty self-explanatory: taking an action NOW that will cause a desired result LATER. If it were as easy as it sounds, then we would all be incredibly fit and eat only healthy food.
The important thing to remember is that this is DELAYED gratification, not NO gratification. Here are the techniques that I’ve used to focus on what I will achieve in exchange.
Be CLEAR About What You Want
It’s really hard to say no to that cake or pizza when it’s right there in your face. When you can smell the frosting or melted cheese, you have to have a CLEAR picture of what your final goal will be like in order to bypass it. One way to do that is making a photo of yourself when you’re at goal. I’ve talked about this before:
Being able to SEE what I’ll look like if I just say no to another slice of pizza is really helpful. I keep a copy of the photo on my iPhone ALL the time just to keep myself focused on what I want.
Make A Mantra
Sometimes it helps me to have a phrase that I repeat to myself. For me, the mantra that has worked the best for me is:
“I’m in control, not the food.”
Of course, that phrase hasn’t always been my mantra. I used to use the quote from Winston Churchill.
“It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.”
Mantras are VERY personal things, so you’ll have to choose one of your own, but here are a few to give you some ideas.
Give Yourself Mini-Gratifications
Maybe if you only have ten pounds to lose, you can focus solely on your final goal, but if your goal is a big one, you need to have several pit stops along the way so that you don’t feel like you have had no positive reinforcement for months.
If your goal is a weight goal, you can give yourself presents for every few pounds lost. If your goal is a fitness goal, you can reward yourself for every speed record or distance you’ve achieved. Whatever your goal, you MUST give yourself mini-gratifications to keep the beast within you feeling placated.
You Have To DO It!
There is a famous story about Jim Carrey.
“I wrote myself a check for ten million dollars for acting services rendered and dated it Thanksgiving 1995. I put it in my wallet and it deteriorated. And then, just before Thanksgiving 1995, I found out I was going to make ten million dollars for Dumb & Dumber. I put that check in the casket with my father because it was our dream together.”
Hardly anyone talks about the corollary to the story, however.
“I would visualize things coming to me. It would just make me feel better. Visualization works if you work hard. That’s the thing. You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”
You can’t just make plans, visualize yourself at goal, and repeat mantras. You have to actually DO what you need to do to get to your goal. Whether that means eating healthier food or getting your butt out of bed an hour earlier every morning to exercise. Whatever you need to do, you have to DO it!
In the end, delaying gratification is THE KEY to getting to a healthy weight and fitness level. Putting off the tasty treats and luxury of sleeping in is what differentiates those that get to their goals and those that dream about them. It’s a skill that needs just as much practice as learning to play a game or how to cook a healthy meal, but when you take the time to learn that skill, you’ll profit from it far more than you can imagine!