What’s So Great About Delayed Gratification? The Secret to Getting What You Want Now

Delay no more.

What do you want, and how can you get it?

Our culture is big on setting goals. To achieve a goal you figure out where you want to be, when, and work backwards from there to the present moment, breaking the goal down into smaller steps. You grit your teeth through the process until the moment you’ve achieved your goal. Then you can be happy!

Well, maybe. Some results are not entirely under your control, for starters. More importantly, sometimes a goal is actually too small to get at what you really want.

Say you want to lose 20 pounds. That’s easily accomplished (more or less) through goal setting. You finally achieve your target weight, but rather than feeling gratified, you’re bewildered to find that you still aren’t happy. You realize that what you really wanted was for a certain person to notice you, and they don’t. Or you wanted to feel sexy but the weight loss hasn’t delivered; you feel just as tightly wound as ever.

Goal setting is not an end in itself but a tool used in the service of something bigger: an intention. An intention asks, “What do you really want?” and then leads you by feeling towards it. In this post I share my process for realizing an intention. Not only does this process work, it works immediately.

  1. Ask, “What do I want more of in my life?” This question gets to the heart of what you really want.

You are unlikely to answer with a thing, like “a car”; or with an absence, as in “less stress” or the weight loss example from above. This question prompts you to think in terms of feelings – love, peace, playfulness – which fulfill our desires in ways that things and the absence of things, such as extra weight, cannot.

If the answer that arises is a thing, like “money,” for example, ask yourself, “What feeling will having that give me?”

  1. “Fall in love with what wants to happen.” This is Martha Beck’s take on Manifesting, from her book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World.

In this image you are not taking. You are co-creating with the universe. And why? For love. “Fall in love,” she says, “with what wants to happen,” and plants the tantalizing suggestion that what you want also wants you.

With this image a path for your intention begins to emerge. Seeing yourself as a co-creator and lover is also much a more attractive and powerful place to begin than seeing yourself as lacking.

  1. Give it to yourself now. In the first question you identified the feeling you want more of. How do you already enjoy it in the life you have right now?

When it comes to wanting something, Byron Katie says, “Eliminate the middle man.” Gratify immediately, yourself, the desire you mistakenly believe exists in the future or in someone or something outside yourself. In this way you not only get to enjoy the feeling in the present, you become more attractive to more of that feeling.

Keep giving it to yourself with the three A’s: attention, asking, and action.

Attention. Give it daily attention through reiterating it (a mantra); writing it down in a place you will notice it; creating a vision board; praying; meditating.

Asking. Ask for support from the people in your life.  Also, remember that you are a co-creator. Ask God, the Universe, angels and guides for help. Ask them to use you, to direct you and direct helpers to you.

Action. Take supportive action, no matter how small, every day. Often we put off action until we’re able to make a grand gesture, but that day never comes, and we get so discouraged. Instead, act on your intention daily. In fact, do it first, and, no matter what else you manage to do during the day, you’ll feel more accomplished. You’ll see opportunities and synchronicities.

4. Notice barriers. When you keep your intention in the front of your thoughts, feelings and actions each day, you’ll notice what gets in your way.

It’s always going to be a limiting belief. Seriously, all the time. Do the Work.  At the very least, ask, “Is that true?” If your reply is, “Yes, dammit,” ask, “Really? All the time? 100% true?” Find three examples where it is not true and notice how much more powerful and peaceful you feel.

5. Keep practicing. You will have results right away, but you won’t have perfection. Tweak your approach. Try taking smaller, easier steps. Build up your strength.

Most of us give up too early. Don’t. Remember you’re co-creating with God. Will God give up?

Here’s an example that may resonate with you.

Your desire is to not yell at your kids all the time. When you ask yourself, “What do I want more of?” the answer, “Ease. Not to feel rushed all the time,” comes up.

Fall in love with what wants to happen. Take two minutes to sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor. Take several deep breaths and relax your muscles until you can feel the energy moving throughout your body. Use your imagination to bring up the feeling you want, ease and the sense that there is plenty of time.

What images come to mind when you bring up that feeling? You see yourself with your children by the front door; they’re putting on their shoes all by themselves, and you’re laughing and encouraging them. You walk out the door high-fiving each other and get to school with plenty of time.

Ah! So you notice that it’s really the getting-out-the-door-and-to-school process that is so painful. What wants to happen is ease in that process, respect for the children’s learning, and you enjoying them, because they really are trying so hard and want to be successful. (Do you see how easily love enters the equation?)

Give it to yourself now. How could you create more space for that process the next time it happens? How can you enjoy a sense of time as expansive, rather that contracted, when you aren’t with the kids? What reminders would be helpful? What help can you ask for – from the children, from their dad, from the patron saint of young children?

The next morning you are acting on your intention. You’ve given the leaving process more time, but your youngest seems to be taking advantage! “He’s such a dawdler,” you think.

Ah! You’ve noticed a barrier to your desire for ease. Question it. “Is that true? Really? Always? When isn’t it true?” Find some examples so you can see him as another co-creator in what wants to happen.

Keep practicing. It goes great the first day, then it’s terrible the next day. . . it’s okay. What can you tweak? You set a small goal to build your muscles in this area slowly: every day this week, while the kids are at school, you’re going to practice feeling time as expansive. Rather than stuffing your free time with tasks, you’re going to sit down with a book for 45 minutes, and ask your husband to run the errands.

This approach to getting what you want is much more effective and satisfying at every step of the journey. No need to delay gratification. Enjoy it now.

 

6 thoughts on “What’s So Great About Delayed Gratification? The Secret to Getting What You Want Now

  1. Sue Ann Gleason says:

    Intention and attention, yes, that sounds like a winning formula. Now if I could just get my husband to run some errands so I can read that book! Thank you, Allison, I always enjoy your posts. xxoo

  2. Laura says:

    What a wonderful post, Allison! I’m all about goal-setting — always have been — but I love the idea of including intention and identifying the feeling that I’m going after. I’ll have to do more thinking on this. Thanks for the push.

  3. Penny says:

    This is so detailed! And so interesting. It is easy to become trapped by repetitive negative practises which them reinforce negative feelings ‘I can never get this right’ ‘He always gets that wrong’. Breaking scenarios down into these small steps and visualising a different way of approaching obstacles is such a healthy way to go about things X

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