Would you pass the Marshmallow Test?
The Marshmallow Test is a 1972 Stanford study conducted around delayed gratification in children. As adults, many of us want instant gratification for the work and effort we are putting into our lives (work or personal). However, we understand that logically it takes time for the effects of the work we do to be visible to us.
Let's take a simple example of working out to lose weight. It's so easy to put on the weight - eat, drink and be merry! We feel happy and positive in the short run. As time goes by, clothes start feeling tighter and the weight just creeps on. Losing the weight is another story. It will require discipline in eating, working out correctly and even getting enough sleep. This will take away time and the joy of eating, drinking and being merry. The delayed gratification of putting in the discipline and effort on a consistent basis will provide the drop in weight that we are looking for and some additional benefits of confidence, more energy and clearer minds. Many times, we don't stay consistent and want the instant gratification. Our media is constantly bombarding us with the idea that you only live once and you should enjoy the moment NOW. Which derails all those projects, ideas and processes in your life that are set to create delayed gratification and results that you truly want.
We see this phenomenon in the business world, every single day. Most for profit businesses care about their quarterly results. However, with the world changing around us at a faster pace, we need teams that can look to the future. The role of these teams is to focus on implementing plans and strategies that set up a business for long term success.
There have been two times in my career where I was hired for "innovation" - long term projects. I was very clear that the work I did would take time to implement but would create long term sustainable results. It was necessary to have the buy in of leadership and their support for resources, time (4-6 months) and space to get the projects implemented. Both projects required implementing technology that could automate processes (reduce manual labor time). In both instances, one quarter in (3 months), I was being asked for tangible sales results, affecting my performance. I left both companies within 6 - 10 months. Both companies were looking for instant gratification versus the delayed results that would be sustainable. From a human perspective, these projects would have ended both, the quarterly stress cycle for the employees doing manual work and the short term strategies that created, no long term value, for their end customer.
As an individual it can be hard to "see" the future results and overcome our want for the short term gratification now! However, there are a few things you can put in place to start seeing more long term results in your life and your business.
1. Clear View - Have a clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish. This means understanding the long term affects and discipline you will need to put in place.
2. Strong Support - Have a support system in place, that understands what you are trying to accomplish. Utilize their support and don't be afraid to ask for their insights, feedback or help.
3. Be accountable - Figure out the process and the obstacles and put a system in place to be accountable to yourself. Only you know how you work and can decide what that accountability process look like. This could be using your support system or creating daily processes that you need to accomplish.
4. Big Picture - When you get distracted or have a moment, focus on the big picture - the results that you will see. Have visual reminders, use your support system etc to keep your mind focused on that long term gratification.
Also don't beat yourself up if you have moments, here and there. It's a human trait to sometimes want instant gratification. The question for yourself is whether you want to live in mostly instant gratification or you want to have long term sustainable gratification.
What are the marshmallows in your life that you are trying to delay?
Welcome to Belle’s world. Everything in this world is based on a bell curve. Our media concentrates on giving advice to make everyone be a part of the masses. Belle's world focuses on the outer extremes of the bell curve.
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