“Delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with. It is the only decent way to live.”
M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth
There are always consequences and there are always rewards. The key is to decide which I want first. The consequences are anything that is unpleasant, be it physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, or financial. Rewards fall in the same areas, but they are pleasant. I’m going to have both, especially when I set a goal or am in my Purpose. So I need to decide, as I said, is which one I want first.
Currently, I am on a summer break there are a little over five weeks left. I have stated my goals in previous blogs, but for clarity’s sake, I will state them here.
· Walk at least 30 hours
· Write 100 more blogs.
· Do 40 more radio shows.
· Put 20 more things on eBay.
· Read for 20 hours.
· Reduce my debts by 20% or more.
Choosing these goals means also choosing some consequences. If I choose these goals, I am going to have to give up some things. I may have to give up time, money, sleep, or leisure. I may have to get up earlier. I may have to stay up later. I may have to spend less time with my friends, my comic books, or online games. There will be definite consequences.
In addition, it’s summer and I am off work. I can morally and ethically justify doing nothing because I’m getting paid. So why do I increase my stress level and my workload, when it’s completely unnecessary? I do it for the reward.
There is only sure reward – self-esteem. If I reach my goals I will trust myself, because I have done what I said I would do. Trusting myself is worth gold. If I trust myself, I will like myself. If I like myself I will love myself, and if I love myself, there will be very little I can’t do.
In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey calls it self-management. In The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck calls it “delaying gratification” and says it is the hallmark of maturity. One reason why maturity doesn’t come to everyone may be because not everyone has learned to delay his or her gratification.
There is a cost for not delaying gratification. I have to wait. I may have to work while I wait. This means I have to make decisions, to say no to things I’d rather say yes to. This is never fun. But when I have completed my goal, then the fun begins. And it is far more enjoyable than any fun I could have had delaying my work.
The irony is that when I delay my work and take the rewards first, I rarely have any true fun, because I feel guilty or stressed. The truth is that I rarely like to go out anymore, because I’d rather just sit here with my Muse and get my work done. I’d rather delay my gratification, because my real gratification comes from finishing my work. That’s the gratification I lose when I choose the rewards first.
So I do my work. There are consequences for this, but they don’t seem as great as the consequences for the not doing my work. When I was in college, I often chose not to study. This choice gave me time to do other things, things that I enjoyed. But when my grades came, I usually felt terrible about myself. In fact, to this day, I have only two regrets – that I didn’t do my best and that I wasn’t kinder. There are very few things I would change about my life, but if I could go back in time and study more and get the best grades possible, I would.
This is why I have chosen to Get Started and Keep Going. The rewards are far greater than any consequences I face by doing my work.