Delayed Gratification, Part 2

Last time, I wrote that instant gratification is natural, just not always the most helpful route. Here are some actions that help people stick with effort for when the rewards are real but not right now. That is, here are ideas about how to stay motivated while making steady effort towards your worthy goals. The list, btw, pulls from teaching and self-improvement books.

1 Visualize Success. The clearer a person can imagine what they’re working for, the better they can choose tasks and stay with them. This isn’t all tangible stuff, but visualize the outer signs of the inner self. For example, part of my success includes growing some of my own food and staying healthy. I know the layout of the garden, orchard, and vineyard. I imagine how I look fit and mellow as I pick tomatoes or muscadines or check the rain barrels on a sunny day…

2 Talk about Success as if it is Reachable. (Some say talk as if it already has happened.) The way people talk about things is the way they think of them. Also, if the success hasn’t occurred yet, it causes some cognitive dissonance. That moment of discomfort can produce ideas and motivation for taking another step forward. People perceive what they’re focused on. Focus on the goal and potential assets and steps spring to mind.

3 Feel Good about Progress, but Stay Hungry. Another way to say this is to love the person you can become. Or balance the satisfaction of effort now with the realization that there is more to do. Really self-critical people often defeat themselves and quit, but really self-satisfied people often don’t bother out of smug complacency. Both fail because they aren’t trying, so the middle ground is most productive.

4 Be Good to Yourself. Use small, instant rewards to reinforce good efforts. Balance matters: too much indulgence often hinders people, but too much asceticism often discourages people. Work to live.

More next time…

This entry was posted in effort, encouragement, healthy living, life in balance, managing projects, success and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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