Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sustainable Gratification


I enjoy playing video games....

Okay, maybe that is an understatement. I LOVE playing them. I really get into the story, the challenge each level poses, the realism of modern games. And I love the social aspect of playing with friends, competing, advancing, and the infamous "level up!"

But it is an useless habit.It's fun, but useless.

I've spent most of my spare time as a child playing Video Games, and don't have anything to show for it, except a bunch of old cartridges with sentimental value and some memories. While these things are not inherently bad, and while some argue video games can teach useful skills looking back  I would have chosen to spend that time doing somethings else; something more productive.

I am a different person now than when I was a child. I have different priorities, habits, goals, and ideals. But I still love playing games. With my 20:20 hindsight, you would think it would be easier to say no, and choose to work on something productive.

But.....it's not.

There is a difference between the progress I make in a video game, and the progress I make in my writing. Both are progress, but any progress I make in a video game is fleeting. It is gone as soon as I stop playing. It can be satisfying to beat a particular level, or solve a puzzle in a video game. And entertainment has its place. However,  I find myself craving a deeper level of satisfaction. And a major proponent for deeper satisfaction is sustained gratification.

Everything we do provides varying levels gratification. This impacts the choices you make, and reinforces those choices. Some actions provide instant gratification. We tend to draw unto these choices. Fast Food; Video Games; Keeping up with the Kardashians, they all provide immediate gratification. These are clearly not good life choices. But people make them every day because its easy.

The Burger King mentality, "I want it hot, fresh and I want it now."


Sustained gratification requires more work, discipline, self-control, and foresight. It doesn't provide immediate rewards, but they are longer lasting and much more fulfilling. Writing a blog post, for example, is an act that takes a lot of work, planning, re-writing, editing, etc. But when you see the final product, someone else gains some sort of benefit because of your hard work.That gratification was delayed, and will last a lot longer that if you ate a cookie.

Now you may be wondering how this connects with early retirement. There is a reason why most people do not retire in 10 years (some don't retire at all!). It's hard!!! It isn't easy to save, to cut expenses, to make do with less, to repair the things that break instead of buying new things, to ride your bike to work instead of driving your car, to work at a job you are not crazy about (or even hate), to track your expenses and make adjustments to your budgets, or to make dinner instead of eat out after a long day. It's really hard. But.....is it worth it?

For some, maybe not. Live in the moment. YOLO. Whatever. For me, it is. I want that freedom of time. I do not want to be a slave to debt, or to a corporation, or addiction, or to anything. I want to make time for what matters in life: My family, friends, and following my passions, like ending poverty and making affordable healthcare worldwide.

But in order to get there, I am going to have to work, and Work Hard!!

What would be worth the sacrifice for you?

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