How To Delay Gratification
What does it feel like to delay instant gratification in favor of a long term goal? We have all done it. We regulate our emotions and negotiate with ourselves every day for the benefit of our long term goals over the short ones. But this seems to be more effective for essential things, such as not spending our pay check in one day, or refraining from telling our boss what we really think, in order to insure we have a job the following day. But sometimes delaying gratification does not seem so easy. So let’s break down the mechanics of what is actually happening in our minds when we delay instant gratification for a long term goal. In regard to nutrition, sometimes we are just on auto pilot to put in our mouth whatever is in front of us. I liken it to a food trance of sorts. If you are unable to account for what you have eating throughout the day meal by meal, then you too have experienced this food trance. So how do we pop out of the food trance and start taking immediate action for the benefit of our future selves? If what you are doing with your nutrition plan is not working, this newsletter is for you. I have a few ideas in mind, try them on and see how they fit.
1.The start to any success in delaying gratification is first having a long term goal. We all have an idea of what we want but to be clear and specific about the goal is quite another thing. So take a moment to get clear about the goal. How many pounds exactly do you want to lose? What size dress/pant/skirt exactly do you want to fit it? How specifically do you want to look visually? What do you want your energy level to be like? Get clear and specific to start.
2.The next step is to cultivate that goal in the form of visualizations, affirmations, vision boards or whatever works for you to help you clean out the clutter of your mind. I personally enjoy meditation, hypnosis and visualizing my goals to motivational music.
3.Now becoming cognizant of your behavior is the next step. We are not actually to the point where positive action will be on auto pilot but when you reach for a cookie you will make yourself aware of your behavior, whereas before it was almost on autopilot to eat whatever, whenever. Sometimes you will be able to refrain and sometimes not, that’s ok. For now just be aware of the behavior.
4.Now comes the hard part. Controlling your behavior. But the beauty with will power is it works a bit like a muscle, the more you practice refraining the better you get at it and also the easier it becomes. I like to keep diaries of how I feel so that when things are especially difficult rather than doing the behavior that I am trying to train myself to change; I take a minute to write about how I feel about it that moment. This is really the step we most often don’t get to. We don’t usually consciously feel what it feels like to delay gratification. Sometimes, it is a little painful actually.
5.Now with controlled behavior being practiced more and more and being cognizant of those behaviors and having a vision of the goal right in front of us, behavior modification becomes easy.
6.Results! Once we see a bit of the results that we are looking for, usually we are home free. Once we see the positive outcome of our positive efforts then we have momentum in the direction of our goals and success is secured. Now we can continue to visualize and imagine our goal and the process of delaying gratification is much easier.