The Dangers of Instant Gratification

We live in a world where we can get almost anything we want, almost immediately. We’re trained to expect this, and it’s messing up our ability to be patient and persistent in pursuing the things that really matter.

The world of NOW

When you post something to social media, you can expect people to start liking it within minutes. Maybe seconds. I guess it depends on how cool you are.

When you want to buy something, even if you can’t get it locally, you don’t have to wait. Amazon offers next day delivery, or even same day pickup sometimes. Within my lifetime I remember having to wait days, or even weeks, to get something I had ordered from the internet. Now, if it isn’t on Amazon Prime there is a good chance I won’t even bother.

In the town I live in, there are phone apps you can use to get food delivered from our most popular local restaurants within the hour. And if you want marijuana, there are literally dozens of places you can call to get it on your doorstep in the same time frame.

Want to talk to somebody? Text them, and you can get a response within seconds. When I was a kid, you called people and you hoped they were home. If they weren’t, you just didn’t get to talk to that person.

Want a particular piece of information? Google it, and you’ll have your answer in 0.53 seconds. We have no real reason to remember anything any more, because we know that every answer is only 0.53 seconds away at all times.

Why this is a problem

We don’t have any patience any more. We flit from one thing to another, and anything that isn’t able to hold our attention for more than a few seconds is immediately replaced. As soon as we want something new, we have it right away. This has completely taken away our tolerance for waiting.

But this is an issue, because the things in life most worth having take time to get. The things you want more than anything, you have to work for. You have to pursue them. You have to wait for them. And to do that, you have to remember that they’re worth the wait. For example, there’s a person in my life that I haven’t seen in a while. Someone I’m very close to. I’m going to get to see them soon, and I’m very excited about it. We need more of that feeling in our lives. Anticipation. Expectation. Excitement. Suspense. It’s good for us to wait sometimes.

Another example is this website. In my first post, I wrote that I didn’t care how many people read my writing. And I absolutely meant it. But now that it’s been up for a while, and I have things like Google Analytics telling me how many people visit the site and how long they stay, I can’t help but feel disappointed that my traffic isn’t picking up every day.

I mean, that’s not what this is all about. I’m not writing to get famous. I’m writing because I think that people can relate to my experiences, and benefit from what I have to say. And the fact that my friends and family read this, as well as a few stragglers from elsewhere on the internet, makes it worth it. I’ve talked to at least two people in my life who’ve told me they’ve learned things and reevaluated their own habits after reading about changes I’ve made. That makes me so happy. If one person out there reads a post I’ve written and benefits from it, it’s still a thing worth doing.

But it’s there. I can view my traffic, and it’s a numerical representation of how much I’m worth as a person. I want it to go up, and I want it to go up now. It’s discouraging when it doesn’t. Some days, I feel like giving up. I’m blessed to have people in my life who are there on those days to remind me of the value of perseverance.

My point

What I’m saying is that anything worth having takes time to attain. Whatever your dreams and goals are in life, they won’t come overnight. Whether it’s the career you want, or the physique you want, or the spouse you want, it’s going to take a long time. Possibly much longer than you’re comfortable with. And if you’re in the habit of giving up on things that don’t happen right away, you’re never going to get them.

So get out there and… keep doing whatever it is that you’ve been doing for a while and not seeing any results from. If it’s something you’re passionate about, it’s worth your time and investment. Write down a goal. “Within one month from today, I will achieve: __________________.” Don’t make it a result, make it an action. I wrote down a goal, and it wasn’t to get a certain number of page views. My goal, written on June 20th, was to write two blog posts a week for a total of ten posts I’ll have published by July 20th. This post makes nine. I’m almost there. When I hit that goal, maybe I’ll write down a new one and hit that too.

Don’t give up. Persevere. If you haven’t started, start now. Then don’t give up.

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