Thursday, January 6, 2011

Delayed Gratification

When I was an accounting major (I've recently switched back to English...surprise, surprise) I had the pleasure of taking a few Econ classes.  I sort of fell in love with the subject.  So much of economics is the study of people and why they make certain decisions.  I have often doubted decisions I've made, so anything that explains it or helps me be a better decision-maker fascinates me.

Every time I learned a new concept of economics, I considered how I might apply it to my life.  I was convinced that if I actually put them all into practice, I would be a highly wise, sensible, successful person.  One of my favorite notions is delayed gratification, which I would like to now discuss.  Delayed gratification is simply waiting on something that you really want, as opposed to getting what you want right when you want it.  It is the idea of patience and self-control.

For example, in college I really wanted a pair of Minnetonka moccasins that were way out of my price range.  I decided that every time I wanted to spend money on luxuries like new clothes or eating out, I would resist the temptation and keep track of how much money I was saving by denying myself the instant gratification.  Once the list added up to the price of the boots (I remember it taking a long time!), I purchased them.  I have never loved a pair of shoes so much (or had as much self-respect).

I wish I could say I constantly practice delayed gratification, but the truth is that I don't.  I'm fascinated by the concept because it doesn't come easily to me.  I'm rather impatient, and would love to be better at waiting.  I feel like it would benefit me in many areas of my life.  Obviously I would be better off financially; if I waited longer to make purchases I would save myself from a lot of impulsive spending.  I would be healthier, having the self-control to say no to sweets.  I would definitely be a better wife.  School wouldn't be so frustrating if I accepted the fact that it takes time and that I can't get a degree in two weeks.  Man...I wish I could get a degree in two weeks.

The hard part for all of us is that our society has increasingly made us impatient.  Does anyone remember dial-up internet?  How frustrated would we all be now if we had to wait more than five seconds to be connected?  It's funny how quickly we become accustomed to immediate results.  Everyone would love to get rich quick and lose weight fast.  You never hear anyone say, "I really hope it takes thirty years to build up some wealth!" or, "I'm looking for a weight loss program that will take months before I see results."  We hate waiting.  But the fact is, things are always better when you wait.  Wealth built over time is much more stable than winning the lottery, and the quicker you lose weight, the more likely you are to just gain it all back. 

I just want to remind myself, and encourage whoever may read this, that delaying gratification is a great thing to practice.  It's certainly not easy, but it is well worth it.  Don't be discouraged; be patient.  "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."  Someday it'll pay off!


  1. I've been creeping on all your posts, but I recently read a book that goes along with this really well. It's called "In Praise of Slowness" and it's really interesting. Pretty much calls us out on how our whole society is just obsessed with speed!

  2. I love reading your blogs, Kimmy. I think this is something nearly everyone struggles with. I read somewhere that the average price of an impulse buy is $150. Don't know how true that is, but it makes me wonder how much money we could all save by the end of the year if we seriously considered all of our purchases. Probably a lot! I also really liked the concept of historic cost from economics. Just because you've already invested time, money, heart, whatever, into something doesn't mean it's worth it to continue doing so. It's money or time or heart that's already been spent, so we should stop making decisions based on what's already been spent and decide whether it's truly worth it to keep spending on it. I feel like that idea makes it easier to walk away from things that really aren't worth my time or money, even if I'm already invested in it.
    Love you!

  3. First of all - AWESOME JOB at keeping and going above your new years resolution of one post a week!! Congrats! I just had an hour long conversation about this with a friend last night, so it is confirmation that I am continuing to learn this myself (and trying to teach Robert this concept!) to improve the quality of my life. The times I am most proud of myself always include some sort of sacrifice or self control - and you are right, you feel so good about who you are and so empowered!! Thank you for continuing to inspire me - keep writing! Kristy said it best, "I love reading your blogs".

  4. I wish I could work with you again. I miss our talks...YOU INSPIRE ME>>>>>>>>


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