Delayed Gratification and Our Future Selves

Welcome to Episode 10 of Learn Share Grow.  The whole week we have been learning about Willpower and how it can affect our decision making. In this episode we cover delayed discounting, we break down the marshmallow test to see what it means for those who fail 10 years on, and we also cover you vs you 2.0!

I also explain how you can win your copy of one of the best books I've ever until the end to find out how you can win.

***Youtube has apparently taken down my video for now.....If it doesn't re-appear, the podcast link works :)***

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Full Transcription Below:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Learn Share Grow live with Hayden Wilson. This is Episode 10 which marks the end of Willpower week and it’s been a great journey so far – we’ve looked into why we exhibit certain behaviours and the differences between our self control muscles and how we work on those - and start to get better results in our life.

Today I’m going to be sharing something about delayed gratification with you and also something really interesting on how our mind plays tricks on us and believes that this is a future self, a different person. I’ll get into that a little bit later on.

The first thing I want to discuss with you here today is what’s called delayed discounting. Scientists have proven that when they did a study on chimpanzees versus humans from Harvard, they found – and these weren’t just everyday chimpanzees, they were chimpanzees from the Wolfgang Kohler Chimpanzee clan, an Institute in Germany - the humans and the chimpanzees were given the choice of having two M&M’s or six M&M’s if they waited two minutes.

Results found with the chimpanzees they could delay their gratification 72% of the time and indeed receive the six. What was really interesting though, was with the humans, if you can take a guess – 19%. It’s crazy to think of this number, when we know, it’s only two minutes that we can receive these treats but that’s just human behaviour.

It’s so mind boggling to think why this happens, but this is the process of delayed discounting. The thing is, this was only the case when the gratification was immediate, when it was seen - they knew that they could get that result.

Once they put those M&M’s in front of the humans that’s when it really started to kick in and the scarcity mindset started happening and they decided yes, I need these now rather than waiting. The thing with the delayed discounting is the longer the wait for the reward, the less it’s actually worked. The further you put it out into the future, the less it becomes worth to us as human beings. So how can we start to reduce our delayed discounting?

The first trick that you might like to try is to put it out of sight, out of mind.   For example, just say you have some lollies or treats on your desk, it’s been proven that just by simply moving that item into the drawer underneath or putting it out of sight, it will reduce the number of times you’ll give into your cravings and actually eat that treat. Or maybe it’s a pack of cigarettes on your desk and if you move it and put it out of sight then you can start to get better results. These are just small things that we can try.

The second thing I want you try is to use the 10 minute rule. The 10 minute time is perfect because it tricks your brain – what you’re delaying is further enough into the future for you to start thinking about the consequences of what you are about to do. So when you’re using those 10 minutes I want you to think of your end goal and go through it – is this something that I really want to do and how will this affect my results at the end of my challenge.

That’s for people who say I won’t do this, I will give up smoking, blah blah blah. For someone who wants to start exercising, start going to the gym, they can use the reverse method of this and say, I will get started, I will do 10 minutes and use the 10 minute rule in that way.

So if you can’t get up and go for a run, just say I’m going to go for a 10 minute walk and you’ll find, that quite often, once you start going for that walk that 10 minutes is nothing and then you push it out. Scientists proved in studies that this happened with someone who was smoking cigarettes - he started off with 10 minutes, then after that 10 minutes was up he started setting himself additional challenges – he’s got through the first 10 minutes, maybe I can do 5 minutes more.

So of course I know we all have to be realistic and we can’t be perfect all of the time but these are just a couple of little strategies that you might like to try.   The second thing that still works into the delayed discounting is this fascinating test – you may have heard of it – it’s called the marshmallow test.

It’s very popular in psychology and a few different books, and obviously in the areas of willpower, and that’s why we’re talking about it. A guy by the name of Walter Mischel, in the 1960’s got a few 4 year olds together and started to do this test with them. They could have one marshmallow now, or two in fifteen minutes. The fascinating part about this is – and they’ve recreated this, you can watch it on YouTube – it’s so funny watching these kids, they cover their eyes, or put it out of sight and try all these little tricks.

Ten years on from this, Mischel followed up with them, and found that the kids that delayed were more popular, they had better results at school and they responded better to stress. This is great but when you compare it many years later with those who had the immediate gratification bug, they found that smoking and drinking increased, they had more chance of being on drugs, their gambling was up, their savings for retirement were down, they were more prone to participating in unprotected sex, and they procrastinated more.

So it’s amazing to see the differences between two different people and how we can tell, from such an early age, and from such a simple test, such as choosing a marshmallow and delaying that gratification, it’s amazing to see to see the results from that many years on from that. So how can we lower this discount rate?

When you’re in that situation and you’re not quite sure, and you really want to, and you think you are going to break this habit of being good, I want you to think of yourself enjoying the reward – whether that be if you’re saving money, I want you to imagine you’re on that holiday already, or you’re flying first class, or you’re jumping in a pool, and enjoying the actual experience.

Or maybe you’ve got a six pack and you’re really fit, imagine yourself, you’ve got the six pack, who’s surrounding you – think of all these options of what you are going to achieve when you’re not going to break, and will stick to all your plan. The second thing I want you to do is consider both options, fully and completely.

What is going to happen if I immediately gratify myself now and participate in this behaviour or what’s going to happen if I don’t and I reach my end goal quicker. I want you to stop and think about the entire process. Then the last thing you need to do is ask yourself, after you’ve done these two steps of thinking about enjoying it and also looking at both options, is it still really worth it, to participate in that.

The third point that I’m bringing up today – and we’re going to announce a big give-away at the end of this video, so keep watching – the third point here I want to bring up, is what’s called the future self – and this is fascinating.

What they’ve found is there’s you in the present and then what they call 'You 2.0', which is you in the future.   What studies have found is that the future you has a decreased chance of stress, has less anxiety, you are more organised, have higher motivation, your pain tolerance is up and you make better decisions and this is still you, just the perception of yourself in the future.

This is also why we get so excited and pumped up for goals that we set, because we see ourselves as being different in the future - we’ll have more time to be able to work on our different goals, we’ll be different people in our lives. To wrap an example around this, students were surveyed and in the now, they were told they could give 27 minutes worth of tutoring for the term.

Then when they found that their future selves in the next term they could give 85 minutes of tutoring - a huge difference, nearly 3.5 times what they are now to what they thought they could do.

But the truth is, nothing’s going to be different in the future unless you change it. So why does this happen? It happens because in the brain there are two different parts and they basically act as two independent cogs on a wheel because one is making the decisions for now and one is making decisions for the future.

So you’ve got your now self and your future self. There are a couple of different things you can do to fix this.

The first thing I want you to do is imagine your future self. So imagine what you need to change to get you to that point. Most likely, it’s to stay on track and hit the goals that you’re currently trying to hit. I also want you to realise that nothing can be different in the future unless we change it.

The second thing that you can do – there are services out there that you can email, it’s been going since 2003 – it can send you a reminder date for a time in the future – and you can decide that on 31/12/2017 I want to receive an email from my future self saying congratulations for hitting these goals. This is a hugely popular technique that goal setters like Brian Tracey use, and it’s amazing to have these services available to us where you can actually get a future email sent to you on that exact date.

Just before we finish up I want to – and while I’m talking about this - leave a question in the right hand side there – all week we’ve been talking about willpower – I want to let you know that we all need to be realistic and none of us have an amazing willpower, well some of us do and some of us don’t, but it’s not a competition, you need to realise that everyone’s at different stages, but we can all get there. Like I’ve mentioned all week, it’s a muscle and I’ve given you strategies and if you haven’t quite picked up on some of them, feel free to go back or shoot me an email and you can realise that everyone has the same capability.

You can work up to, it’s not too far gone but let’s just be realistic about it. Don’t set goals that are so far ahead of yourself that you’re destined to fail. Set realistic goals and have that plan in place so that when it does come around we can mitigate the damage and actually get done what we need to get done.

All right, now it’s time for the announcement. (promotion expires 25/2/16)

I’m going to flip my board – first time that I’ve done this – flip my board like this. What I’m doing is a give-away. I’ll zoom in. We have the most amazing resource that I’ve quoted and this is one of my favourite books ever. It’s the ‘Willpower Instinct’ by Kelly Mcgonigal – that book right there.

I have three copies in my possession, ready to give away and I’ll be sending them out worldwide, to wherever you are living, as long as you adhere to these simple rules. I want you to share this video. I want you to like my page on Facebook which is

And then what I want you to do is tell me one thing that you have learnt this week from Willpower Week on Learn Share Grow. Once you do that, I will pick it up. Feel free to send me a message on Facebook or email me at [email protected] but this is basically how you are going to get this amazing resource.

Kelly McGonigal has done a fantastic job and it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read – I’ve been through it about 4 – 6 times in reading form and then I’ve listened to it maybe 6 or 7 times as well, unbelievable resource. If you have any questions chuck them on over on the left hand side. Otherwise I’ll catch you all next week.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Willpower Week and you’ve got some strategies to learn from this, from Kelly and from the other sources that I share.

If catch you all next time.