I was recently reading an article by Marshall Goldsmith, a leading author in the field of leadership. He was summarizing a 50-year-old research project, in which a Stanford University psychologist studied children’s choices in the areas of immediate gratification vs delayed gratification. In the controlled study, young children were given the choices to eat one marshmallow immediately, versus waiting awhile and getting additional marshmallows. They studied the children as they matured and found a direct correlation in the children who waited as having higher SAT scores, more educational achievement, and lower body mass index.
The implied take-away from the study was simple. Maintaining self-discipline and resisting smaller rewards now in return for larger, more significant ones later, is a good path to take. Many people in today’s world that are considered as successful have reached that level by strict delays in overall gratifications… but at what price?
If we deprive ourselves of fun, happiness and enjoyment along our journey, and wait to experience them only when we reach our final goals or destination, will we have a bunch of marshmallows lying around that will never create pleasure and satisfaction? (Okay, if you’re not a big fan of marshmallows, replace them with your favorite snack.)
In our lives, we will face the marshmallow test hundreds/thousands of times. Maybe it’s best to delay consumption in some instances, but let’s have some balance. Let’s eat some of them along our journey, or else we and they will become stale!