Monthly review – avoiding instant gratification

Sometimes it takes time for the benefit of new habits to build. This year my goal has been to invest in relationships with family, friends and community to bring joy and connection. When setting the goal I didn’t think it would be easy, but I thought as long as I worked at it, built my habits, the results would come pretty quickly for this goal.

In reality it hasn’t turned out like that. It reached a turning point in May, boosted by time away with my husband on our own, but it took for the habits to establish some deeper roots before I really started to feel the joy and connection that I had hoped for.

This was a great reminder to me that to achieve most things in life, it takes patience and persistence. There were times in the first few months when I was struggling with some of the habits, that I thought I had really mucked up with my goal setting. This of course was resistance rearing its head. When things get hard, we can naturally start to resist. We don’t like the discomfort and it seems easier to change back to something we know and feel comfortable with or change the goal to make it easier. I saw this for what it was and kept persisting with investing time into the areas important to me.

In July, I felt that I was really starting to feel the benefit of persisting with calling family and friends, of persisting and catching up either at home or out with people and persisting with the work I was doing at the kids’ schools. As you will read below, there are things that I would change if I was to start this year over, but years of goal setting has taught me that to achieve your goal it can often require patience and always requires persistence.

With technology enabling instant access and on demand services meeting our needs so quickly, waiting and having to work hard to get things is becoming less common. I catch myself getting frustrated sometimes with “how slow” a website is loading and think how crazy it is that a mere few seconds can cause me frustration. I am old enough to remember only having dial up speed access, where you would navigate to a webpage, walk away and do something else while it loaded. Back them I wasn’t frustrated, I was still in awe of how amazing this technology was. But we get used to things and our expectations start to change. This tendency to want things and want them now, is often referred to as instant gratification.

Instant gratification is the desire to experience pleasure or fulfillment without delay or deferment. {source}

For me goal setting provides great protection from my tendency to want instant gratification. Like this year, when I have started to struggle with the habits I have been setting, I focus back onto my goal and the key reason I want to establish the habit. It provides me with direction and purpose. So when I have to do something that I really don’t want to do in the short term, I remind myself that it will be the cumulative effort of many actions like this over the long term which, will help me achieve my goal and this keeps me going.

Adam Sicinski on his blog IQ Matrix has a great post on how you can avoid the instant gratification trap, which is definitely worth a read if this is something you struggle with. The visual below is from his post.

So if like I have this year, you have struggled while working towards your goal, I encourage you to be patient and persist, avoid instant gratification and that will get you closer and closer to your goal.

How are you going with your goal for the year?

HabitConnection to goalJuly Review
To make three phone calls a week to family and friendsI am terrible at making phone calls. For friends and family that are not near me, this is a great way to stay connected and I have to change my attitude towards making calls.

The best way to change my attitude is to act, so I am going to set a target of three phone calls to make each week.

I also think there will be a natural flow on effect from making phone calls to seeing people in person more too.
I am really comfortable with this habit now. I do much prefer to chat to people in person though, than phone. So where I can I am setting up catch ups in person as much as possible.
To be an active participant in a parent body at each of the three schoolsOver the last couple of years, my focus has been more inward and I haven't been as heavily involved in the kids' schools as I used to be.

This has left me feeling less connected, so by stepping up my involvement I hope to increase my feeling of connection.
I am working well on this, though from the experience gathered this year I would structure my involvement quite differently next time.
To organise family or friend catch ups twice a monthI always feel better after catching up with family and friends, but unless I put it top of mind, it is something that can not happen.I have found it harder to catch up with family over the last month due to timing issues with what everyone has on, so will try to do more in August.
To do one activity at home or out each weekend with the kidsAs the first two kids have grown up, I realise I haven't been doing as many group things with the kids as I did when the older ones were younger. It doesn't need to be fancy or long, but spending time with the kids like this brings me great joy.

While ideally I would love all five kids to be involved in this weekly activity, the reality is that the lives of the two older boys and the ages they are mean this won't happen very often. I will however still encourage it and make sure the younger kids and I do something together.
I am loving this. I think as the kids get older it is easy to drop this off, but I find it such a great way to bond with everyone by doing it.

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash