We live in a culture of instant. Instagram, instant noodles, instant response, instant meals, and the list goes on. We have forgotten what it feels like to wait.
What drives the need for instant? Are we so time poor that we need to milk every second of the day? Do we truly achieve more if everything and everyone arounds us produces instant response and instant success?
I believe that there is a limit to what we can gain from instant. Instant fame or success is a myth. You might be the lucky winner of the lottery and therefore achieve instant financial millionaire status. However, based on past winners of the lottery, studies have shown that they are more likely to be declared bankrupt within 3 to 5 years than the average American and it has also been shown that they are not necessarily happier or healthier. Sadly, winning the lottery has made their lives worse instead of improving it. One of the many reasons is that unless you have learned the discipline of managing money, you are not going to instantly have the skills to manage money. Discipline and skills are only developed over time. Discipline does not come instantly.
We want instant gratification, a habit that tries to short cut the short-term pain and immediately land at success or pleasure. In another words, it is the pleasure principle that we aim to achieve. This short cut mindset rarely produces long term gains or rewards.
What is the problem with instant?
The problem lies in what instant steals from you . Instant steals from you the 3 key characteristic that are required for long term success.
The 3 key attributes are:
3. Competencies or skills
Let’s explore each of them.
Instant Robs You of Maturity
You will lose out one of the most important characteristics that is valued and that is maturity. Aging and Maturity is not the same thing. We all age over time but not everyone matures with time. Maturity is developed over time along with the wisdom to know how to manage and respond to challenging situations and people. We are like fine wine. Wine takes time to mature to develop a smooth, complex flavour profile, that enhances the drinking experience. Time and the right cellaring conditions are required for that to take place.
We are very much like that. We need time and the right conditions to mature with grace. You need the function of time to help you smoothen the edges of your character and situations and experiences increases your wisdom to manage the complexities of life. It is developed when we face various situations both good and challenging and when we learn how to manage or respond to each one. Instant gratification robs you from that.
The choices and decisions that you make today will have an impact on your tomorrow.
Some examples of maturity that you will miss out on are:
1. Maturity leads a person to be committed. Commitment is a long-term attribute. If someone can be committed, you know that the person is able to see through a project or work till the end regardless of the short-term challenges or pain. That is the attribute that we want from people around us whether in the workplace or in families and friends.
2. Maturity enables a person to make decisions, wisely. Decisions that are based on their character and not short-term feelings or emotions. Instant culture would dictate that we want to do something, and we want to do it now, which is primarily based on how we feel. However, maturity will enable a person to decide not based on how they are feeling now but what they are willing to forgo in order to enjoy the benefits later. For example, exercise, not many people enjoy the short-term pain and struggles of exercising, but they do it because they know that there is a benefit down the road. You are not going to see those muscles appear after just one workout, but it will certain appear after consistent and constant exercise over a period of time.
3. Maturity leads to reliability and dependability. A matured person is one where people can rely on. A person that is dependability. Reliability and dependability are attributes that are developed over time. No one becomes dependable in an instant. It is over a period of time and through many different situations that we would consider someone to be reliable or dependable.
Why can’t maturity take place in an instant?
Learning takes place over a period of time. Learning is not just about knowledge accumulation, but it is about how we process knowledge and then apply it. Not just apply it but to be able to apply in a practical and responsible manner. This requires discipline.
Instant robs you of the power of Discipline.
Discipline is like a muscle. It takes time and resistance to develop. Take exercise as an example. You are not going to develop any muscles if there is no resistance and repetition. Resistance comes in the form of challenges and going through the challenges and learning and adapting accordingly. Repetition comes in the form of time and just facing different challenges along the way.
Discipline helps you to stay the course, to persevere, to do what needs to take place, to enable you to grow. Discipline in athletes is a great example. An athlete does not just rely on their natural talent, but it is the discipline of hard work, the practice hours, the dedicated and sole focus on the prize of the finish line that makes one successful. Without discipline, there is no long term, sustainable success.
Instant robs you of discipline because it stops you short from the long term and sustainable success. The discipline muscle never gets to be developed because you stop when the resistance is hard or when the repetition becomes tiresome.
The example of winners of lottery tickets, instant millionaires, the lack of discipline with managing money causes them to be not just more miserable but to have a higher chance of declaring bankruptcy, is a result of both lack of discipline but also a lack of competencies to manage instant wealth.
Instant robs you of competencies and skills.
Skills or competencies can only be developed over time and through practice. No one learns something instantly and becomes and expert. Skills take time to learn and to develop. Recently, I decided to learn how to solve the Rubik’s cube. Yes, it can be solved. I took almost 3 hours to learn the basic algorithm by watching YouTube. Even after that 3 hours of learning, I had to spend even more time to practice or to put the algorithm into play. It was not just the learning of the algorithm that mattered, but it was the hours after that to build up the skills necessary to solve the Rubik’s cube.
There is no way, anyone can master the skill of solving the Rubik’s cube instantly because it is fact that time and effort are required to develop competencies and skills.
Do not let instant rob you of further developing your competencies and skills. Your worth in the workplace is largely dependent on your competencies and skills. It is your competencies and skills, along with discipline and maturity that will not only enable you to be successful but to keep you successful.
Why are we short-changing ourselves with instant?
There are many reasons why we short-change ourselves with instant. We have grown up in a world where everything we want is given to us instantly. In fact, served to us as fast food, faster processors in computers or phones, all measured with just fast is the response time. However, we are not like technology. We are the consumers of technology and how we use technology should be the dictating factor of what is impactful and not the other way around.
There is a reason why babies take 9 months to gestate. There is reason why older people are wiser. There is a reason why true success and wealth comes from long term effort and not winning the lottery.
We want it now. The expectation that whatever we want, we want it now and we get it, now. When did this start? How did we get to this point? Everything seems out of control because we no longer have the right expectations and our mindsets have been altered and not in a good way.
Take cooking as an example. Sure we have instant noodles. Yes its quick in 3 minutes and you have something eat. Now think about the nutritional aspect of instant noodles. Does it have any? What would the impact be if you had instant noodles every day? I have no doubt that your body will not be too happy with what you are consuming. At some point, your body will let you know that the years of abuse is enough.
How to move to a matured mindset?
In order for us to change or to practice delayed gratification, we need to exercise discipline. The discipline of saying NO and NOT NOW. Those two concepts are key to stopping yourself from the desire to give up or to choose the perceived pleasure that you can gain now. Tell yourself to wait by saying NOT NOW or NO to the instant gratification. You will need to exercise the discipline muscles. And like all muscles, you can develop it. It can get stronger over time as you use it. Imagine the discipline muscles as your biceps and triceps. You will need to develop both and to do that is to use NO and NOT Now. NO is like the way you train your biceps. Say NO to what is perceived as the easy way, the short cuts, the instant gratification. NOT NOW is the way you would train your triceps. NOT NOW when you feel like giving up, when it feels hard and its painful. NOT NOW says don’t give up.
Once you have started to train the discipline muscles, you can then work hand in hand with the following other steps:
- Slow down: Slow down the pace of your life. Don’t fall in the rat race trap.
- Know the purpose: Know the why to what you are doing. So often we lose sight of what is our reasons are which leads us down a rabbit hole of doing too much and eventually burning out.
- Keep it simple: keep what is important, important. Simplify your life and when you are focused you are able to accomplish a lot more than you thought possible.
- Have I been taking the instant route?
- What areas have I been stealing from maturity or discipline or skills?
- What areas do I need to develop maturity, discipline and skills in?
Do not allow instant to steal from you the 3 key attributes of maturity, discipline and competencies that are required for long term success. “No” and “Not Now” are 2 key mindsets to have in order for you to go through the challenging times. Learn to slow down, be clear on your purpose and keep it simple as you journey on this road of maturity, discipline and skills.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life. As always, please subscribe, follow and share this blog with your friends. Take care and step into the everyday with purpose.