What does it mean?
Instant gratification is a habit where to avoid short-term pain, we indulge in fleeting pleasures that ultimately result in long-term pain or regret. That could include, binge watching, social media, video games, unhealthy foods, etc.
“Ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in long term is the indispensable prerequisite for success”.
Why do we seek instant gratification?
In other words, we find excuses (reasons) not to do something because of the pain it creates at the moment even after being aware that this action is necessary to help you attain your long-term goals and objectives.
For example, Eating junk food with excuse of “only this time”, “I will finish this task after watching X episode of Y show”, etc.
Caughting up in the instant gratification trap is like expecting to gain something from nothing. Unfortunately, nothing in the world works that way. Instant gratification is a distraction that sucks the most valuable asset we have, time.
So it’s necessary for us to know how can we break this bad habit. And below are the ways that will guide you for it and help you get back control on your time.
How to Break the Habit of Instant Gratification?
Decide what you want to achieve.
Seneca the great stoic philosopher said;
“If a person doesn’t know to which port they sail, no wind is favorable.”
We should not only try to view this quote as a big picture. Well many of us do not have found or decided our goal for life. Does that mean we are unworthy? No.
We need to have something to achieve everyday (we should decide our port everyday), written on paper, that we call a to-do list. This will keep you aware that you have something to finish and chances of spending time on distraction will reduce.
2 Minute Rule.
And what if I am avoiding those tasks and drifting toward instant gratification? But I want tasks to be completed.
That’s where 2 minute rule comes in. James Clear in his book Atomic Habits, gave a brief idea about this rule, to adapt a habit when you don’t feel like doing it.
The rule says, just do it for 2 minutes. And your chances for doing (even completing) tasks are even. But you have to adapt this right before you slip into instant gratification (right before desire to watch a show).
Root cause of getting into instant gratification cycle is our inability to give full attention to one specific task. For example, Sat to complete an assignment and end up scrolling Instagram, etc.
It is important to prevent getting into this cycle so practicing undivided attention will keep you engaged with tasks.
Watch the desires and distract
Instant gratification begins with our action on desires. Desire to know what will happen in next episode, desire to eat sweet, to procrastinate. And all of us have desires and it is up to us whether to act on them or not.
Sometimes we can’t stop acting on them at that time, try to delay that desire. Wanting to watch a show, distract yourself with a walk or long bathroom self talks, want to eat sweets, distract yourself by calling your most talkative friend, etc.
Keep Rewarding Yourself
Sometimes we work very hard to achieve our goals and forget to reward ourselves and after a while we burnout. That burnout tells us to take some rest and we choose binge watching, unhealthy diet, social media, etc. to reward ourselves after a LONG time.
So it is necessary to keep rewarding ourselves even after small wins, everyday. It improves our wisdom.
Slow it down
If it’s been a long time and you feel addicted to gratification. Make a list of things that attract you for it that may include watching a show, eating pastry, etc.
You don’t need to remove all of things from this list. That would mess things up and you will fall back quickly.
Instead, slow them down one by one. This week, have a pastry less, spend one hour less on binge watching.
Reasons to dismiss instant gratification are: It wastes our time, it makes us feel guilty, it develops bad habits, it falls us into addiction, it is one of reasons why we procrastinate.
So takeaways are: Be aware of your goals. Work toward those goals so that no distraction like this gratification can bother you and also reward yourself when you achieve a milestone. If it bothers you apply 2 minute rule, watch desires and try to distract yourself and if nothing works take tiny steps to slow them down.