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How Instant Gratification Destroys Achieving Success

A woman surrounded by the source of instant gratification

In a world of growing digital convenience, the lure of instant pleasure can hinder our pursuit of long-term life goals. Understanding how instant gratification affects our journey towards success can assist us in resisting its temptations.

What is Instant Gratification?

Instant gratification refers to the tendency to experience pleasure or fulfillment without any delay or postponement. It is the act of indulging in momentary pleasures without giving much thought to future objectives or responsibilities.

The Sources of Instant Gratification

The triggers for immediate satisfaction are all around us — from the virtual world of social media to the tangible temptations of fast food and retail therapy. Here are a few common sources:

  1. Social Media: Endless scrolling through short clips and posts.

  2. Gambling: The thrill of quick wins.

  3. Fast Food: Fast food joints, vending machines, and convenience stores.

  4. Gaming: Video games and mobile applications.

  5. Substances: Drugs, alcohol, and nicotine.

  6. Shopping: Impulse purchases at retail stores and e-commerce websites.

  7. Entertainment: Television shows, movies, and online videos.

Why is Instant Gratification Bad?

Dopamine release, probably you've heard that dopamine release is bad, but dopamine release is a natural human brain function. when dopamine release happens, we feel happiness and satisfaction. And dopamine release is triggered by rewarding activities, such as accomplishing goals, exercising, good social interaction, and so on.

But those are not easy to achieve every day. We need discipline and willpower to achieve those. And every time our brain releases dopamine, we feel pleasure and want more.

Becoming Lazy

Especially the instant gratification from social media, typically 10-second to 1-minute-long videos or just pictures. And if you find it not interesting scrolling down to the next post. When we watch videos our brain releases dopamine. Because of the nature of social media, our brain gets used to releasing dopamine without any effort. It doesn't require any work or money. People can get pleasure without even leaving the bed.

After being hijacked by the instant gratification of social media, people may lose the drive to achieve goals because their brain already knows how to attain pleasure and satisfaction with just a tap and swipe. Naturally, their brain become lazy to accomplish something; if they can be satisfied by simply watching social media, why would they work hard?

Even if they could have goals, they might lack the motivation to pursue them. While some feel frustrated with their current situations, those who aren't caught up in instant gratification will try to figure out a way to break through and execute their plans. However, those addicted to instant gratification may not feel like taking action or pursuing their goals.

Short Attention Span

Constant consumption of short clips and posts can reduce our ability to concentrate, making it difficult to focus on tasks. This diminished attention span makes it easier to get distracted ultimately reducing productivity. Many people find themselves unable to sit down and read even one page.

Impulsive Decision-Making

Instant gratification can lead to impulsive decision-making without thoughtful consideration of potential risks. This impulsivity can result in negative outcomes and waste of time.

Mental Health Concerns

Excessive reliance on instant gratification can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and sadness. By constantly seeking quick solutions for pleasure, we may overlook healthier coping mechanisms for managing our emotions.

Perseverance and Instant Gratification

Success doesn't happen overnight; it requires perseverance, which means you need to endure the challenge without satisfaction for quite a long time. Like the marshmallow test – can you wait for a greater reward?

We need to stay consistent in our work, even when we don't feel like it, and not seeing the result, for an extended period of time. It's not just weeks or months, but even years.

Even if instant gratification addicts quit social media and other bad habits, and try to focus on their lives, set goals, and work hard to achieve something, those with instant gratification mindsets might get frustrated by not seeing quick results and slide back into their old routines, like internet surfing.

Instant gratification reduces our resilience and the ability to cope with adversity. People may struggle to persevere through challenges or setbacks that require patience and perseverance.

So, the question is, can you wait and persevere? Even if we're not instant gratification addicts, years of working toward our goals without seeing results and getting feelings of satisfaction is tough. But we must persevere and have resilience to pursue the goal.

Delayed Gratification is Better Satisfaction

The rewards we can get instantly are cheap quality like fast food, it'll give us quick satisfaction, but it's not fulfilling or memorable. In the long run, it harms us. On the other hand, do you remember how you felt when you achieved a goal you worked hard for?

That feeling is totally fresh, fulfilling, and meaningful. It's way better than the instant gratification we get from social media, gaming, drugs, gambling, or fast food.

Imagine, spending 5$ every single day for a cup of coffee at your favorite cafe it'll be $1825! Or rather, saving up a little money for a year and making a trip abroad.

The reward of delayed gratification is better satisfaction. It's like experiencing all the instant gratification moments at once.

The Ability to Delay Gratification

People who can delay gratification in everyday life are more likely to demonstrate certain positive developmental traits or outcomes, compared to people who cannot delay gratification as effectively. 

So, focus on things in front of you just one more minute, or stop doing it and play a video game to give yourself a 'reward'?

The ability to delay gratification influences our future outcomes

Strengthening Willpower

Strengthening willpower to resist things we want to is crucial to overcoming instant gratification. The sad fact is that when we don't use our willpower, we lose it. But the good news is that willpower can be infinitely increased.

Techniques like the micro-sucks technique (as mentioned by Andrew Huberman). This technique involves resisting an urge or habit for an extended period.

For example, if you feel the urge to check your phone while working out, try to resist checking it until your workout is done. Since we can't increase our willpower when we're used to the same intensity, we need to increase the intensity of this training by extending the period of time.

This may sound simple, but by doing this, we can certainly increase our willpower and overcome instant gratification.


In conclusion, while the allure of instant gratification is powerful, it's important to understand its potential impact on our long-term goals. By strengthening our willpower and prioritizing delayed gratification, we can navigate the path to success more effectively.


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