Do You Want One Marshmallow Now? Or Two In 15 minutes?

marshmallows

“Have a little patience.” That’s something many people have told me very often in the past. And it’s true, used to be very impatient.

Too often, we don’t realize how bad impatience is. I was recently rereading some parts of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, my favorite book on conquering fear. And this sentence grabbed my attention:

“The biggest pitfall as you make your way through life is impatience.”

I’ve struggled with patience for most of my life. I always want things to happen now. There are many examples of that. 

If you’re the same, you know that it’s a bad trait. You put a lot of pressure on yourself, and others. Unnecessary pressure. And impatience impacts all aspects of your life: Your health, relationships, and career.

When I started a business with my dad over six years ago, I was super impatient.

  • Why are they not buying?
  • We have to change our strategy.
  • We need a new website.
  • I need to go to more conferences.
  • We should advertise in trade magazines.
  • We have to hire someone to help with sales.

I probably changed my mind about something every single day. And I can tell you this from personal experience: Impatience wears you down.

So I forced myself to become more patient with everything. With people, myself, goals, progress, money, relationships.

Get comfortable with delaying gratification.

Focusing on all the success stories is easy. Sure, the stories are real. Some entrepreneurs, bloggers, YouTubers, have generated millions in revenue within a short period of time. Some even on their first try.

I’m not saying those things don’t happen. But how many of these stories exist? Exactly. Not that many. And that’s why they get all the attention. But for most of us, other rules are at play.

We have responsibilities, rent, people to look after, relationship issues — you name it. Life is not easy. And if you want to make this life work for you, you have to be strategic about it. Be long-term focused. Because that’s how you get the most results.

Start slowly, get better, study the industry, don’t compare yourself to others, and then go all in when the time is right.

But you and I both know how difficult that is. We’re all familiar with the marshmallow test. We know that humans are not good at delaying gratification.

Because anything that’s worth it in life requires you to do tedious work that has ZERO short-term gratification.

Want to help people? Change their life? Make sure you got your act together first. And understand that most things have a payoff in the future.

Live today. But think about the future too.

It’s about balance. Living 100% in the moment forces you to take, take, take. You’ll probably get the one marshmallow.

But when you always think about the future, you miss out on life. Because we often do things ONLY because we expect a payoff in the future.

That’s why we get degrees we don’t need, stay at jobs we hate, and start relationships with people we don’t love.

I challenge you to find a balance. And that’s easier than you might think. All it takes is to do the right thing TODAY. Get a job you actually like and study things that you’re interested in.

Why do you want to achieve a certain goal? And why do you want it as fast as possible? And more importantly: Why do you want instant gratification?

Because we all know that having two marshmallows is better than having just one. And there are much more examples of delayed gratification experiments. We also know that the kids in those experiments who waited for the bigger reward performed better in life.

Why do we still take the marshmallow now? Because we’re impatient children.

And that’s okay. But at some point, we must grow up. It has nothing to do with age. It has everything to do with patience.

So here comes my question to you: What would you rather get?

One marshmallow now? Or two in 15 minutes?

 

 

12 comments

  1. Thank you Darius for sharing this. I truly believe that it’s really all about balance. I’m not a short term kind of person so I prefer sticking around where there is a long term plan. This for many years, which I came to realize affected my abilities to live, learn and enjoy today and now. I am getting better at it by telling myself that the future will be okay and if I just give the best at what I am currently doing, certainly I will reap the rewards sooner than I imagined.

  2. Thank you for your understnding on Patient which is the key to success in every thing you do you need Patients

  3. Its always a good reminder to be patient. Yes its good to work hard etc but practising patience brings a certain steadiness and finesse to life. Thanks for sharing – and btw I find your emails helpful!

  4. I have always believed in the concept of having a bird in hand being better than having two in the bush! Your thoughts?

  5. We use the marshmallow test to exam self-regulatory skills in 4 and 5 year olds. I needed the reminder regarding patience as I begin working on my nonprofit- Bree’s Book Bus.

    Learning to set up a WordPress website, with no training, is trying my patience. I joke that I can diagnose reading difficulties as well as train teachers to do so, but I cannot figure out my Divi theme!

  6. Great article. I believe Russel Brand spoke about the link between the need for instant gratification and addicts. He used the 1 vs. 2 marshmallow scenario as his example as well. I love how you go a step farther and show the need for balance.

  7. Darius, thank you for an amazing article (as always). It got me thinking. I believe the issue is, that if you’ve already invested time (and hence patience) you want the results asap. Just as you said yourself earlier – you have invested creating business with your father, so because something was not working out you got anxious. It’s the same in every situation – if you’ve invested time and effort you want the results. Don’t really think it’s possible to get rid of these feelings. Or?..

  8. Hello Darius, I found the article to be very interesting. I’m proud to report the in my life time I’ve exercised the patience of Job. Throughout my journey that yield positive as well as negative outcomes. At 70 years young, I am entering the final quarter of life. The patience that I experienced in earlier years, doesn’t exist today. With a good understanding that I don’t have a minute to waste, my actions are more assertive. If the marshmallow test was today, one marshmallow today, or two marshmallows tomorrow, I would take the one marshmallow today in the event I’m not here tomorrow.

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