Delayed gratification is great if it’s allowing you to work toward something. For example, saving for that trip you’ve always wanted to take or giving up that extra hour of sleep so you can make it to the gym. You’re giving up something good now in order to get something better later.
Where delayed gratification becomes a problem is when it is used as an excuse for life avoidance. Rather than allowing you to work toward something, it is keeping you from something. Sure, it’s hard to decide what you really want out of life. It’s risky to pursue big goals. Rather than rising to the challenge, we tell ourselves we need a little more time or a little more money. Not yet, but soon. Someday.
Here’s the thing. The longer you wait, the less you believe yourself when you say “Someday.” Your dreams begin to atrophy. Your opportunities begin to vanish. You aim lower. You talk yourself out of things. Before you know it, it’s too late.
If you’ve been around Intentional Retirement for awhile, you’ve seen the quote from Mark Twain below. Your biggest regrets in life will be the things you didn’t do. So don’t delay. Decide what you really want out of life and get after it. Start small if necessary, but start.