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Delayed Gratification by Jim Stovall

There is not one simple overriding key to success. Instead, there are a number of keys that make success possible. However, one of the most significant concepts among the keys to success is that of delayed gratification. Olympian Peter Vidmar said, “Don’t sacrifice what you want most for what you want now.” Few things in life that are worthwhile come easily or are attained quickly.


I’ve long believed that there’s no shortcut to anywhere worth going. One of the most significant indicators of future success came to light through research done on preschool children that became known as The Marshmallow Test. In this research, a preschool-aged child was taken into a small room and told to sit at a table. On the table in front of them was one marshmallow. The only instructions given to the child was that they could eat the marshmallow now, or if they waited five minutes, the researcher would come back and give them a second marshmallow. That simple test proved to be an amazingly accurate indicator of how children would succeed throughout their education and career.


Many of our ancestors grew up in an agrarian society. They lived on farms and daily observed the cycle of planting and harvesting. Farmers worked all year and basically had one payday after they harvested their crops. People who are willing to plow, plant, fertilize, and cultivate their fields in hopes of a good crop later in the year, understand delayed gratification.


Higher education offers many lessons in delayed gratification. Obviously, students are studying today putting in effort and energy that will pay off years down the road in the form of a degree. College students are often faced with the dilemma of enjoying a night out with friends now or studying for a test that will potentially result in a good grade later. Success in life comes when we can strike a balance between smelling the rose today and planting roses that will be enjoyed in the future.


The recipe for failure is quite simply short-term, bad decisions repeated regularly. If you eat poorly today and neglect to exercise, it will have little, if any, effect on your long-term health. However, if you make it a regular, ongoing habit, it can literally kill you. The difficulty arises that if you eat well and exercise today, you won’t experience positive results as quickly as tomorrow. Success is cumulative.


The regular, systematic investments in your retirement plan or investment portfolio will seem insignificant at the moment but will make you wealthy in the future.


As you go through your day today, make choices that will bring you success in the future.


Today’s the day!


Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082; by email at; on Twitter at; or on Facebook at

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