During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, a psychologist named Walter Mischel led a series of experiments on delayed gratification. Mischel was interested in learning whether the ability to delay gratification might be a predictor of future life success. In the experiments, children between the ages of 3 and 5 were placed in a room with a treat (often a marshmallow or cookie). Before leaving the room, the experimenter told each child that they would receive a second treat if the first treat was still on the table after 15 minutes.
Follow-up studies conducted years later found that the children who were able to delay gratification did better in a variety of areas, including academically. Those who had been able to wait the 15 minutes for the second treat tended to have higher SAT scores and more academic success (according to parent surveys).
The results suggest that this ability to wait for gratification is not only an essential skill for success but also something that forms early on and lasts throughout life.
“The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term, is the indispensable prerequisite for success.” – Brian Tracy