Instant Gratification – The “I want it now” Syndrome

Instant gratification does appear to be entering our DNA and we are blithely accepting that is the way life is.  I personally believe that the internet has a lot to do with this.  With so much noise, drivel and superfluous nonsense hitting us through computers, TV’s tablets, phones I am not surprised that we are developing the attention span of a gnat.

Instant gratification is NOT a right…

Some of the instant gratification bug also seems to be tied up with what we feel ‘our right’ is.  What happened to saving up for that shiny new object we so desire.  Why do we feel we must have it at all costs, even if that means getting into debt, and we want it now! Did we not learn the lessons of two boom and bust cycles where the credit card debt we carried soared into the stratosphere?

Funny thing is, that by waiting a little while, either the desire disappears and we fixate on the next shiny new thing, we find we can do without it or it is all the more sweeter once we do get it as we’ve worked for it.  Think about it; how much more gratifying is it to finally go on that holiday having saved up for it over several months; chosen it very carefully and truly planned for it? I’m not saying that doing the occasional thing on impulse isn’t fun, it is! However, if everything comes immediately all too often it becomes yet one more discarded toy on a heap of discarded toys.

There is not much worth put on things that are easy to come by; ask any person who queues for hours for a ticket to see their favourite band (even if that queuing is online). The joy of finally securing that ticket is far greater than instantly getting to see the same band on the television.

I am not advocating going back to the days of rationing or poverty- yes everyone has a right to a roof over their heads, clothes on their back and food in their stomachs. What bothers me is when everyone feels they have the right to a mansion, Armani and caviar and NOW!

Instant gratification habits we could all lose

I am just as guilty when I try to reply to every single email I receive the day I receive it as it gives me gratification to see an empty inbox and know I am ahead of the game (never happens in reality).

I also see adverts for amazing courses, or new products that seem oh so enticing and my finger hovers over the BUY NOW button.

However, I am aware of it.  I battle against falling into the trap.  I stop and think ‘do I really need this now’ or ‘can I afford this or should I wait’.

Steps to curb instant gratification

Step 1

What happens if?  You don’t buy that new pair of shoes; that awesome course promising you instant riches; that discount item you are not even sure you’re going to use just yet?

Ask yourself the question before you click…or get out your credit card…what if I don’t buy? Will the sky fall in, will you lose your health, will others shun you?

Step 2

Do you REALLY need this NOW? Walk away, click away, give yourself at least an hour to rethink the decision to buy.

Step 3

The REAL cost. So, you have a credit card and that discount is just sooooo tempting. If you don’t have the cash, then add up the true cost of buying on credit and watch that discount disappear.

Step 4

Why do I want this? Did you earn it? Is it a reward for something or just to make you feel better?

Step 5

What are the alternatives? I have a friend who when faced with wanting to buy something- deliberately checks out ALL the reviews and the competition. She says that often after this process she comes to realise that she really doesn’t want the item, or can certainly wait for it, or simply loses interest in it.

Instant gratification is a lazy route

I have spoken before about how humans need purpose. The big downside of instant gratification is that it takes away our drive towards a goal. If we can get something immediately then what is there to strive for? I’m not saying that life needs to be a struggle but it becomes boring without any challenge. Humans thrive on overcoming obstacles, moving forwards, making progress. At the smallest level; we don’t enjoy a Sudoku we can solve in 30 seconds; a brain teaser with an obvious answer; getting something with absolutely no effort is simply not satisfying.

The “I want it now” mindset is lazy, ultimately unsatisfying and, dare I say it, a selfish way to live life.

Both personally and professionally if we all fought against the need for instant gratification and learnt a little patience I am sure a great deal of stress and heartache would disappear too.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.