Saturday, March 5, 2011

Don't Get Sidetracked By Instant Gratification

I was reminded while working out the other day of the need for instant gratification. It's part of human nature to want to see immediate results. I'm not gonna lie, it's something I struggle with on a daily basis. Hey, when I pay or work for something, I better see what I expected as fast as possible. I'm too busy/important to wait around!

Week 4 of boot camp just ended, and as I mentioned before, I'm feeling more energetic, my pants are looser, and I'm getting stronger. But when I weighed myself the other day, I gained 3 pounds. 3 friggin' pounds! Now you're probably thinking that I’m angry about nothing because it's just muscle weight. And yes, the logical part of me knows that. In fact, there's physical evidence, too. I lost about 2% body fat. But I've been working my a$$ off for a full month. It's frustrating and even slightly demoralizing to not see "results" in terms of weight loss. Why haven’t doctors/scientists/engineers figured out a way for me to be lazy, eat junk food all day, and still lose weight without any side effects? Yeah! What's up with that?

As much as I love instant gratification though, I hate giving up even more. I’m going to continue to work out because I'm no quitter! Patience is virtue, right? By now you've probably already guessed that there’s a personal finance point to this rant. Correct. A huge part of the reason why people overlook saving money is because of the need for immediate satisfaction.

People convince themselves that they can always start saving tomorrow, but that awesome gadget is not going to be around forever! Right, that gadget's not going to be around forever. In fact, a better one will probably come out in 6 months. So don't get caught up with being so nearsighted. It’s a lose-lose situation. Put that money away, or if that gadget is really so awesome, look into investing in the company's stock (Apple, anyone?). Rome wasn't built in one day, neither is your retirement fund (unless you win the jackpot or something). Take a deep breath and picture what you have to look forward to when you’re debt free, retire comfortably, or even retire early.

Here are some things I find helpful to fight off urges to see results on-the-spot. Before buying something or taking on something new, THINK. Taking a step back can do wonders. This way, I can define a reasonable timeline and determine what exactly I'm trying to achieve and benefit from this. Are there other options? If so, can I afford to go with an alternative? If I feel like I've hit a wall, it's probably time to reexamine my methods and even look over my goals to see how realistic I was being in the first place. The initial goal of losing 5 pounds in the first month at boot camp, for example, wasn’t realistic for my fitness level and body type since I build muscle quickly. I should have been looking at body fat percentage to determine success.

No, I don't mean that it's okay to set measly goals just so you can reach them. In fact, accomplishing something difficult is much more satisfying than those 10 seconds of instant gratification. You’ll always congratulate yourself on the time when you pulled off a nearly impossible feat, and you’ll always regret the time you backed out too soon. Just recognize when something's not working and change strategies instead of quitting. Hopefully, it'll lead you to great wealth, and I mean that in every sense of the word!


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