If you can master the art of delayed gratification, then you can more easily walk the path to FI. The average attention span of humans is currently at 8 seconds. That number is dropping quickly through the years. As technology swirls around us, it allows us to move onto bigger and better things almost instantly.

As humans, we aren’t wired to think about the long-term. Instead, we crave the immediate dopamine hit of happiness in our present state. For example, making the impulse purchase gives us an immediate sense of happiness even if that purchase is pushing away our long term financial independence goals.

What is delayed gratification?

So, what exactly is it?

Instead of giving in to your impulses for happiness immediately, delaying gratification pushes off that happiness into the future. As you move through life, you take a pause and think about the consequences before you give in to your temptations. Usually, it involves making the hard choice for now in order to enjoy the fruits of your labor later.

A few good examples of delayed gratification include:

  • Skipping the impulse buy on Amazon to save your money for a bigger goal.
  • Working extra hours at the office in order to meet your financial goals.
  • Regularly skipping sugary desserts because you want to feel healthy in the future.
  • Cooking at home instead of going out to eat in order to stay on budget.
  • Sticking with an older car because it can help you meet your savings goals.

In each case, you give up something now in order to achieve something later.

Why is delayed gratification important?

Let’s face it. Most of us would prefer to give in to our natural impulses to do whatever we want whenever the urge strikes us. So why would we attempt to build delayed gratification into our lives?

Delayed gratification allows you to work towards bigger goals.

It can be difficult to make progress towards any goal if you are constantly derailed by your impulses. If you are building a business, it is not a good idea to constantly take Netflix breaks, no matter how great it might feel at the moment. If you are working towards building a healthier body, then you can’t skip working out every morning, even though staying in bed feels like the best option.

By choosing not to give in to your impulses, you have a better chance of reaching your goals.

Delayed gratification and FI

Financial independence is not something that can be achieved overnight. With hard work and determination, you can achieve FI in 5 to 10 years. However, if you are constantly giving in to your impulses along the way, it could add years to your financial independence journey.

Executing your financial independence plans will require sticking to your plans and your budget. Delayed gratification will be an important part of this effort. Otherwise, your impulse buys could destroy your budget and your savings goals.

In addition to the saving money aspect of delayed gratification, it can help you to use your time more wisely. If you choose to delay your impulses to waste time, then you might have more success working towards your goals.

Reaching financial independence will require patience. Although 5 to 10 years is a relatively short time frame, it can still feel incredibly long while you are on the path. Use delayed gratification to help you stay patient on your journey.

How to use this as a tool in your life

Delayed gratification can be a useful tool to help you achieve your FI goals. Of course, you shouldn’t use delayed gratification to justify depriving yourself of everything that makes your life worth living.

Before you start to use delayed gratification as a tool, determine what you value in life. Once you know what you want out of life, it can be easier to practice delayed gratification. Instead of delaying your impulses just for the sake of delaying your impulses, you’ll be choosing to work towards the goals that you value. As you make it a priority to work towards your values, delaying gratification can become easier with that goal in mind.

Don’t give in to temptations along the way, use your dreams as a motivation to make it through without giving in. You might be surprised how quickly practicing delayed gratification will lead to progress towards your goals.

Be sure to check out our article regarding the difference of wants vs. needs.