delayed gratification

Image credit: Larisa-K | CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

Willpower, Determination and Delayed Gratification


We have been focusing on bad habits, and last week we talked about changing a keystone habit, which in turn can make huge shifts across many other aspects of your life.  But identifying one of your keystone habits is difficult. If we carrying on with our theme of looking at changing our eating habits, we start to create a structure that will help other habits to flourish.

The Benefits of Delayed Gratification

Research shows us that willpower is the single most important keystone habit in creating success. Self discipline has a huge effect on many aspects of life, and if you can make self discipline a habit, it becomes automatic. Science says one of the secrets to successful people is Delayed Gratification – a skill you can develop by distracting yourself and not immediately giving in to temptation. This in turn helps you self control.

Marshmallow Experiment

The marshmallow experiment is a famous test of the delayed gratification concept conducted by Walter Mischel at Stanford. In the 1960s, a group of four-year olds were given a marshmallow and promised another, only if they could wait 20 minutes before eating the first one. Some children could wait and others could not. The researchers then followed the progress of each child into adolescence, and demonstrated that those with the ability to wait were better adjusted and more dependable (determined via surveys of their parents and teachers), and scored an average of 210 points higher on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

It is fair to mention that children who grow up in an abusive, fear-based or survival type of environment, with less love and/or food, are more susceptible to lack of self-determination and willpower, as opposed to their counterparts. Something to be mindful of, lest we judge ourselves or others for not being successful in this regard.


How do you decide that you want to lose weight?  You may have been told by your GP, or you may have decided yourself.  Once you have made your mind up, there are many ways you could go about it. You could join a gym, and radically change your eating habits, and this would work for a while.  But most times people tend to slip back into old habits. Charles Duhigg in his book, the Power of Habit, talks about taking a different approach and putting a structure into place.  For example, instead of focusing on losing weight as a starting point, turn it on it’s head and write down everything you eat each day for a week, and eventually this becomes a habit.

Keep a Food Diary

Once you’ve looked at what you actually consume in a day, you find out what your eating patterns are and you can see when you have weak moments. For example, what times during the day, and where you are etc.  If you know when your weak moments occur you can prepare for them, and change what you do.  The example that was used was chocolate biscuits at coffee time. And the suggestion was to take a piece of fruit with you to be ready for the temptation, or even better, drink a herbal tea instead of coffee.  This method suggests that if you keep a daily food diary of every single thing you eat, you will lose weight and change your bad habits more or less by default.

How to Resist Temptation

It does take willpower, and willpower is a muscle and not just a skill to be learnt. Willpower is just the same as any other muscle in your body, and as your willpower muscles get stronger, other good habits spread. In turn this can change how you react, and you will find that you get better at controlling your impulses. You will be able to find ways to distract yourself from moments of temptation. But it is important to get into that willpower mindset. You have to make up your mind and use your willpower and determination!

Set Goals & See Improvements

Set yourself goals, and ask yourself questions. What are you going to do, and how are you going to manage it. A sense of control over your life is really important.  If you think you are doing it for personal reasons, and it is your choice, this will work better than if someone else has told you to do it.  We all need to be in control of our lives and by practising delayed gratification, you are gaining control.

Check out more of my Monday Motivation Blogs HERE. I hope you find these tips helpful. It would be good to hear what you think about my ideas, and anything else you have come up with. Tell me what you think by posting your comments below. Why don’t you Share this with your friends and family by clicking the Facebook icon or following us on Twitter.

About the Author:<Carole Langman works behind the scenes at Bowerland Cottage Holidays and Devon Dogs as the Business Manager. Her office is always a hive of activity, and with the vast amounts of work Carole has, we never really know how she gets through it all! To unwind, she loves gardening, hikes around Bowerland, travelling and writing.

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