Slow down the gratification

Written by Lisa Pallavi Barbora

Lisa Pallavi Barbora is a Senior Consultant for Content at WFAN. Lisa is also a founder of MoneyPuzzle.in In her earlier avatar, she was a National Writer and Consultant for HT Mint - a premier business journal in India.

October 2, 2020

If you turn on any news channel today you will be confronted with the extremely fast-paced world, we live in. There is no waiting, analysing, pondering, it’s breaking news all the time. It’s not just the news, it’s really everything around us.

Technology has made the clock go faster and access to technology in a user-friendly and relatively inexpensive manner has affected change in our lives more than we realise it.

Young children at 11-12 years of age carry smartphones which unknowingly dump on them responsibilities far greater than what is manageable at their age. The instant gratification makes both the child and parent feel good, even content. The ability to provide this instant satisfaction has overtaken our ability to understand the consequences and impact this decision can have on other more meaningful aspects which of life.

This is not a parenting blog, neither one about the sanctity of breaking news, rather one which seeks to show you the merit in slowing down.

Slow down the instant gratification and take your time to make choices. Slowing down has the potential to vastly improve the impact of decisions and you can implement these changes right from the way you eat food to how you handle money.

It helps in making better choices

Long ago when I started learning how to drive a car, my father always said that be careful about the speed you drive at. He rightly pointed out that, speed helps only to a point where you are in control; any faster and you risk losing control because high speed lowers the time you have to make the right decision and while driving every split-second matters. My father flew fighter jets as a profession, so I can say, he knew a thing or two about speed.

If you think about it, what he was really saying is that we need to slow down to a pace where we are aware of our surroundings and while moving forward in a car we are able to judge everything around us in time to react accurately to the various moving parts.

This slowing down and having control, works even when it comes to your money. It’s easy to click on several ‘add to carts’ and ‘pay now’ buttons, buy what you want immediately as you want it.

In the bargain, you may have overlooked the price, quality and utility of the stuff you are buying. Not only that, with every instant purchase you are increasing the clutter in your life.

Look around you and see all the things lying on shelves, in drawers, cabinets and think about how much of it you need and use.

Not much. Now instead of using your hard-earned money to buy junk you don’t use or give your child junk that spoils them further, had you put the money to better use like giving someone in need or investing for your family’s future, you would have a lot more satisfying outcome, albeit a few years later.

What you need to do is to just slow down the impulse.

Not making that impulsive buy, gives you the time to think about what else you can do with the same amount of money.

As soon as you feel like you need to buy something, don’t just get online or go to the store and buy it. Wait. Wait for a few days and keep thinking about this purchase, slowly you will be able to analyse whether it is a need or a whim and also maybe find a more suitable alternative amongst the stuff you already own. Make your choices count, make better choices.

After making this mistake of quick buying and duplicating things at home a few times, I am now getting wiser about the choices I make about what to buy and what to avoid. The reason I am able to think it through is that I don’t act on impulse and slow it down.

Slowing down shows you value

Many things in our lives have value, but in making quick choices and changes we often overlook this value or never get to experience it fully.

Slowing down the decision making will help you understand and experience the value that each aspect of your life brings to the table.

More specifically, slowing down your money decisions will help you unlock the value money has for your future. It will help you save more, invest better and even spend better.

Once you realise that the spending choices you make matter to the future you seek for yourself and your family, slowing down the instant buying might come easily.

We are tempted to buy more because we see a lot more stuff around us on display. The display is slowly shifting to our smartphone and laptop screens, thus bringing the temptation even closer.

But each incremental purchase of stuff just for the sake of variety will add lesser and lesser value to your life.

It’s important to slow down and think a few times before you buy the same pair of shoes in a different colour or another set of head/earphones because they are the upgraded version of what you already own.

Value what you already have in your life rather than buying more and reducing the value of every new thing that comes in.

Slowing down gratification is as much a learning for adults as it is for children. Now if only there was slow and meaningful journalism that can take over the news channels, it may help us value more meaningful events in the world rather than chasing sensationalism easily without any meaningful outcome. In your own life, an attempt to slow down gratification will help you simplify, de-clutter and value the people and the things around you a lot more. Try it out, but don’t be too slow to start!

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