What is instant gratification? I am defining it as the need to acquire something that very moment. It is that state of mind where you convince yourself that you are better off having that thing that you want that very moment. Its almost as though your life is dependent on it.
Remember the article about your brain needing a little push? One of the reason why your brain makes irrational decision about money is because of this concept.
Yesterday my friend asked if she can start driving school and pay at the end of the month. My response to her was it is possible but, we must have a budgeting session before I can agree to that. At this stage, she does not even have a learner license and nor buying in car the next few months, nor having a potential job offer that requires a license but her mind is convincing her that month end is so far away to wait for the money.
As human being, we find it soo much easier to buy on credit than it is to pay for something in advance. The two concepts are the same, just that in the one case, you thought of something either too late and did not budget for it in time whilst in the other case is that you are pre-empting the need and putting aside money for it. Both require the same level of effort.
So how do you fight instant gratification?
- Clearly know the difference between your needs and your wants. If your life depends on it, then its probably a need. If you can live for another day without it, possibly it’s a want. If its a need, assess how critical it is and if it’s a want, make it a goal with a realistic timeline. Like for my friend with the license scenario, we will have to work towards getting her learners and in the mean time, she can start budgeting for driving school and putting the money aside for it. Also starting something with insufficient resources can be pointless , as it increases your chances of quitting.
- Avoid temptation and learn to distract yourself. If your instant gratification is from the latest trend in fashion, learn to keep away from walking in the mall in the middle of the month. Your mind will convince you that you can always get it now and pay for it later because you do not feel the cash outflow pain. If this is you, stay away from credit cards, store card etc.
- Apply the 32 hour, 48hour or 1 month rule. Have you ever walked out of a shop with something you wonder why you even bought in the first place? After a short time, it’s no longer worth the value that you thought it had. This impulsive buy normally comes from items on sale, shopping induced by friends or just retail therapy out of stress. If this is you, hold onto buying something for 32, 48 hour or even a month before committing to buy it. Committing to something pre-maturely can have high exiting costs.
Overall, learn to discuss your issues with friends that are trustworthy. Your life was just fine without it a day ago and suddenly your mind is trying to convince you otherwise.
How do you fight instant gratification? Let’s us engage.