I want what I want and I want it now! Sounds familiar right?
Waiting is hard, especially when we live in a culture that has been re-designed to fulfill our desires at the push of a button. But in the end, what are our wants really worth when we don’t work for them? And is instant gratification really a bad thing?
I don’t remember where I was or what I was doing, but I could sense this need for instant gratification slowly seeping into every aspect of my life, and not just online. Perhaps you have yet to notice, but the evidence of short-term satisfaction is everywhere you look. From the way we shop down to the way we love one another, the beauty of social media is the ability to exchange ideas and opinions with the rest of the world; however, there is no denying the negative ways this tool has shaped our lives as Millennials. And while none of our needs are new, our expectation of what is ‘fast’ is 10x faster than our parents’. Because who has time to wait, when you have a million other things to get done?
More and more retailers are helping us not leave the house by offering same-day delivery. Bits and pieces of the daily news are sprinkled throughout hashtags and timelines as we bullshit through our workday. Quick fun has become more important than learning regardless of age. Practically every beauty product on the shelf claims to offer ‘instant’ results, even though 90% of their labels are nothing but lies. Excuses provide us with material things we don’t have the money to buy. And sadly, some of our closest relationships suffer when Facebook or Twitter is preferred over what could have been a five-second phone call.
Personally, I noticed this habit popping up most notably when dating. I had to check myself when I realized that as soon as I meet a guy I like, I become obsessed. He’s like my new favorite song and I can’t get enough of him. I’m clocking all his moves and interests online. I make an effort to talk to him damn near every day. But the problem with this is that by having these needs fulfilled so soon, actions lose value. I came to realize that I cannot place expectations on foundations that haven’t been built yet, or else my trust would crumble. So instead of day-dreaming about romance and what the future holds, I am allowing the person I am interested in to meet me there. As time goes on, even the smallest gestures will mean SO much more.
So while instant gratification can serve as a great source of motivation, my point is it can also hinder us from what it is we really want, ultimately leaving us unsatisfied. I also think that most of us treat the future like a myth until we wake up the next day, which is why it is so important to practice self-control and accountability before you are faced with long-term consequences. From now on, when I set my goals the first thing I look for is long-term value, without allowing short-term pain to distract me from my success. And while patience might be one virtue I have yet to fully grasp, I can’t let my need for instant gratification cost me something I can’t afford to lose – my future.