This past Wednesday, Austin and I were having a chat about my future and my fears about eventually walking away from the corporate world.
During our conversation he shared an awesome human study that he came across to help quench my fears. This study is so powerful I just had to write up a post about it and share it with all of you.
It means everything, and it was proven over a 40 year period…
In the 60’s, a Stanford professor tested hundreds of 4-5 year olds in what is known simply as “The Marshmallow Experiment.”
The test began by bringing in each child and sitting them down in a chair, and placing a marshmallow in front of them.
Then, the researcher offered a deal to the child, stating that they were going to leave the room. If the child did not eat the marshmallow while he/she was away, then they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. However, if the child consumed the marshmallow before the researcher returned, they would not get the second one.
In summary, the choices they had are to either get one treat now or two treats later.
The researcher then left the room for 15 minutes.
You can then imagine watching a bunch of 4-5 year olds in this situation. Some kids instantly went at the marshmallow, some tried hard to restrain themselves from eating it before finally giving in a few minutes later, and then there were the few – the ones that managed to wait the entire time.
The results to this point of the experiment weren’t anything great, but the interesting things started to come to light years later as they tracked these same child’s progress.
What they found was surprising and decisive…
Unsurprisingly, most kids couldn’t wait, while several held off for the two treats.
The interesting thing though came decades later…
The children who were able to wait longer for the marshmallow rewards tended to have better life outcomes as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI) and other life measures.
In short, patience led to more wealth and external success.
Those that can overcome their short-term wants for long-term gains (aka delayed gratification) are the ones that generally do better in life.
The Measure of Your Success
What does this mean for your personal journey to wealth?
It means everything.
I’m not just talking about putting off big expenses for the future. If you really think about it, the same principle applies to your current job and comfort level.
You can either have the instant gratification of a paycheck or forgo some earnings to build a business or work on a passive income stream.
I just realized this and it has changed everything for me.
Forever, I’ve been fixated on replacing my income or saving enough to finally “retire.” That, I know now, is a fool’s game when I consider the risk of NOT chasing my dream.
It is not likely that any one side hustle will replace ALL of my income and benefits and be the reason I quit my job to follow my dreams.
Being able to make yourself wait for that income is a huge difference between the ultra successful and the wantrepreneurs. Of course, being able to delay big purchases and save up money helps sustain you for the journey to true wealth when you leave a bi-weekly paycheck behind.
Think about it, if I wait until the perfect opportunity (there are none) to leave my job and pursue my dreams, will it ever happen? It hasn’t happened yet and I’ve been more focused this year than in all other years combined.
Why? Because I’m comfortable and addicted to that instant gratification of my paycheck.
Are you in the same boat? Do you have an idea that you “don’t have time for?” Do you see opportunities pass you by because your day job eats 60 hours a week and drains your creativity?
Do you say that you want to start a business but have made next to zero progress?
It’s happening again and again in my life, but not anymore. I’m done being addicted. I’m ready to delay my gratification.
Now that you know this, which one will you pick?
– The instant gratification (a paycheck that ends as soon as you stop working), or…
– The delayed rewards (a stream of passive/residual income that can last a lifetime and scale up and up).
What will you spend your time on?
– The thing that will help you just get by, or…
– The thing that will make you build a fortune for your family and give you freedom to do what you want to do?
I’m choosing the future this year, the delay, even if it means starting out with ZERO income. If you want more help on how to improve your ability to delay gratification check out James Clear’s article on this same experiment. SPOILER: its all about starting off small and building habits.
Success has a delay. If it’s quick, it’s often not worth it. If you can accept the delay and be driven by your mission enough that you can make it to when the gratification starts to set in, the world is yours to take. You can become as wealthy as you ever imagined.
When you open your eyes and listen to the wealthy, you see their lessons everywhere.
Look at what Austin did. He was trading a lot and not making any money. Finally, he dedicated himself to the craft, learning everything he could for more than 6 months BEFORE he even made a dime.
Why did he do this?
Because he knew this was a small investment that would bring him a lifetime of riches.
Just a short while later, he retired at 27.
My wife took a major risk exactly one year ago. She had a great job at a tech company but she knew it wasn’t her passion or her purpose so she quit and we moved back home so she could learn the family business. She took a 60% pay cut. The short term losses are huge, but the potential for the future is much greater.
After an awesome year of watching her fall in love with her work and meeting Austin who’s on his path I’m committed to following mine.
Put in the work now so you never have to work again.
The big challenge is always the same: ourselves. We’re humans. This whole delayed gratification thing is 100% against our instincts and natural desires.
But that does not mean it’s not possible.
It takes strength, motivation, effort, a vision.
Understand it, fight it, push past it, and you are in the elite.
If you takeaway anything from this post figure out your big why today and set a course to get there, even if that means delaying the gratification on something. Maybe it’s a big pay day, weekends off, or an easy job with a bi-weekly paycheck. Whatever it is know that the pain is short term and the results are well worth the wait.
Here is the article again in completion. I’d love if you shared this with a friend! If someone you know may benefit from this, please share it with them as Austin shared it with me.
Keep going, stay patient, trust the process.