Whilst attending a day of training I fell in love with the facilitator’s shoes. They were striking and quirky. I knew I had to have a pair of my own. The facilitator gave me the name of the manufacturers. And I felt a sense of gratification; as if the footwear were already adorning my feet!
How I chose to go about the task of acquiring them proved interesting. When I compared my approach with that of my friends, I discovered a significant difference.
Their strategy, so they tell me, would be to find the shoes online immediately. And by that I mean during the lunch break, whilst still on said course. Shoes ordered they would then experience the instant gratification that comes when you acquire something new.
By the time the shoes arrived they may well have forgotten about the purchase. Or, they would unpack them, try them on and put them to the back of the wardrobe. They’ve already experienced the pleasure in the purchase. And they are already distracted by the next shiny new thing.
My friend’s gratification is instant. She derives pleasure from having what she wants in the very moment she decides that she wants it.
My strategy for making a purchase is at the other extreme. As one friend put it “You’re planning to plan how to buy those shoes! Why can’t you just order them?” And she’s absolutely right.
The thing is…my satisfaction comes from earning that pair of shoes. Also, I get pleasure from the anticipation of how good I’ll feel once I’m wearing them. I purposefully delay the gratification associated with owning a new pair of shoes. And that’s a strategy I tend to apply to lots of things.
Well, neither strategy is ideal; both have their pros and cons.
My friend’s interest is short-lived. And she may not get much wear out of those shoes before she loses interest. My interest is maintained over the longer term. However, it is entirely possible that I may never actually get to wear the damn shoes!
So, what’s the solution?
Recognise your personal strategy for obtaining something new; and find the middle ground. Also, know that your approach doesn’t only apply to acquiring shoes!
Goals are simply statements of things we want that we haven’t yet acquired. The chances are you’re applying this same strategy to goal-achievement across the board. Do you have a wish list as long as your arm, that gets added to but never any shorter? If so, you’re probably delaying the immense satisfaction that comes when you’ve worked for, and realised, your outcomes.
If, on the other hand you don’t have any stated goals, you are no doubt missing out on the pleasure that comes from identifying what you want; and then working hard to acquire it. There is joy to be had from the process of acquisition – just ask the Ferengi!