I was in a leadership class on influence the other day. A small section of the class dealt with the topic of delayed gratification and how people who have learned to practice the art of delayed gratification were generally more successful in life.
This applies to saving, dieting, relationships, jobs, school, shopping... just about EVERY area of life.
However there is a balance between delayed gratification and instant satisfaction. There are trade-offs to everything, so in our microwave society, how do you influence yourself and others to give up at least some instant satisfaction for future gratification?
For instance, let's talk about saving for the future. The class taught me that simply telling someone that they should save does not work. They know that they should save... for retirement, for a vacation, for a newer car, and the kids’ college tuition. They already know so telling them isn't going to help anything. In fact, it might even hurt the situation. People don’t like to be told what they already know!
So, instead of telling, we need to influence them. Per the book, there are 6 sources of influence… and therefore 6 ways to influence a person to save, per say a vacation.
· Source 1 – Personal Motivation – whether you want to do it.
This is the easy one, I doubt there are many people who don’t want to take a vacation. I don’t think there will be much convincing there.
· Source 2 – Personal Ability – whether you can do it.
So here is a harder one. Can we save? Is there anything to save? Do we have enough to live now – pay bills, rent, car note & buy food - and save for a trip? If there is not enough for now, a vacation is out of the question.
· Source 3 – Social Motivation – whether other people encourage the right behaviors.
My circle of friends like to travel. They like to do big things and go on grand adventures. I have that motivation from the people around me. They encourage me to travel, which in turn encourages me to save. Be that for someone else.
· Source 4 – Social Ability – whether other people provide help, information or resources.
I had to learn the hard way how to budget, so showing someone else how to save a few dollars here and there will go a long way. Helping them realize that there is enough will strengthen their personal ability to save. Budgeting & saving are skills we need for life but probably weren’t taught in school. If you can teach someone else, do it. Not everyone really understands how money works.
· Source 5 – Structural Motivation – whether the environment encourages the right behaviors.
Another hard one. Our culture and society is motivates us towards NOW. We are regularly bombarded with images and advertisements to act now and get instant satisfaction. And the most attractive offers seem like they wouldn’t hurt our budgets (and savings) that much – but when I look at my credit card bill, it’s never the big purchases that surprise me. It’s all the $15 ones that add up!
· Source 6 – Structural Ability – whether the environment supports the right behaviors.
To combat the lack of motivation, we can set up a system to helps us save. Have a set amount transfer from you main bank account to a saving account every paycheck. Forget about this account and don’t touch it – until it’s time for the trip
They say that if you want to influence change, hitting just one or two of these areas isn’t enough. You need to reach them in three to four areas at least before there is real momentum to act differently. So if you are someone hasn’t be successful in saving before, look at things you can do in each of those areas to influence them to act in delayed gratification.