The other day I perused The New York Times online and noticed an article about an old study done by Ivy League professor Walter Mischel, a professor of psychology at Columbia. Most know him as "The Marshmallow Man".
Study to Test Self-Control
He is best known for a study he conducted 50 years ago with preschool children about how well they were able to delay gratification towards eating some marshmallows and candy sat before them. If they could delay their gratification, they could get even more. This is interesting and important because Mischel found that the kids who were able to delay gratification in the study ended up being more successful as adults than the children who didn't delay gratification.
The NY Times article was written to highlight Mischel's upcoming book "The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control" and how our ability to exhibit self-control weighs heavily on our ability to achieve our goals and dreams.
The Marshmallow Test Summary
In The Marshmallow Test, Mischel explains how self-control can be mastered and applied to challenges in everyday life--from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement. With profound implications for the choices we make in parenting, education, public policy and self-care, The Marshmallow Test will change the way you think about who we are and what we can be.
A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behavior later in life?
The world's leading expert on self-control, Walter Mischel has proven that the ability to delay gratification is critical for a successful life, predicting higher SAT scores, better social and cognitive functioning, a healthier lifestyle and a greater sense of self-worth. But is willpower prewired, or can it be taught?
What This Means to Your Goals Achievement
If I had written the word "self control" in the title of this post, I am sure no one would read it...it's not nearly as sexy as titles like "5 Steps to Achieving All You Want in Life" or "Become a Millionaire in Six Months". I know and I totally get it!
But I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't share with you why this article stood out to me:
Long term, B-I-G goals will not be achieved without exhibiting some type of delayed gratification.
Sure, if you have goals that are short term and do-able in 30, 60, 90 days, good for you! But unfortunately, if you want to lose significant weight (for example) in a short period of time, unless you become a Biggest Loser contestant, you are going to have to go through the tough, day to day experience of saying no repeatedly to unhealthy food, unhealthy habits, eating out, etc.
What about that big promotion? What about that big race? What about patience for that disabled child?
Our society fantasizes the reality show inducing, short segment world of having all you want wrapped in a 30 minutes show but as I strive for bigger goals and have bigger dreams, it takes a lot more strategy, staying open, and dealing with the un-sexy aspect of delayed gratification. And it sucks! LOL! But I believe I am worth it and giving up is not an option no matter how tough it can be sometimes!
Like all our posts, I hope this inspires you to reach further, wider and with more intention and to not feel bad about yourself when you have to say "no" more, decide more proactively and be more focused because a life of your maximum potential is waiting on you...and your ability to delay your gratification.