The Most Important Psychology Factor To Achieve Financial Freedom, According to Stanford Research

Have you or a friend ever made a promise to start being healthy, only to break the promise a short while later?

“I am going to start exercising and eat healthy tomorrow… but first, let’s go eat KFC.”

How could you say no to *this*?!

It is a funny yet common phenomenon where we act differently from what we say/promise.

After all, it is rarely an easy commitment to make a positive change in your life.

Sadly, claiming to make a commitment is very different from actually doing it.

To do so, it requires discipline.

After all, as the cliche goes, “Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.”

Therefore, a big part of achieving financial freedom is to have the discipline to build good financial habits.

Do you overspend your monthly budget on drinks at the bar with your friends every weekend or do you keep your savings in a different account so that you don’t touch them?

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The answer is obvious but I am sure you can agree that doing the right thing consistently is the hard part.

A research at Stanford revealed that individuals who are better at delaying gratification are more likely to succeed.

The Marshmallow Test

During the experiment, children were left alone with one marshmallow. They were told that if they were able to resist the temptation to eat the marshmallow until the researchers come back (usually 15 minutes), they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.

The researchers followed these children for 40 years and noted that the children who had the discipline to wait longer for the preferred outcome (2 marshmallows instead of just one) generally fared better in life* than those who were unable to resist the temptation.

*some of the life measures used include body mass index (BMI), education level, SAT scores etc.​

The studies concluded that if you want to succeed at something, you will need to find the ability to be disciplined and take action instead of becoming distracted and doing what's easy.

Your perfect retirement life is the Two Marshmallows.

And whatever daily temptation you have is the First Marshmallow.

But instead of 15 minutes, you need to wait till your preferred retirement age (more than 10 years).

Not so easy after all, huh?

And this is becoming increasingly difficult because we live in a society which prioritises instant gratification. We want everything to be as fast as possible.

We want our taxis to come ASAP. We want the restaurant service to be fast and swift. The WIFI needs to be speedy.

​But suddenly when it comes to our retirement, we need to wait and be patient. There's no rapid, secret silver bullet that solves this problem instantly without any pain or sacrifice.

So it makes it difficult for us to make the hard choices required now to reap the rewards later.

You need to train your discipline to delay gratification like how we train our muscles at the gym.

By deliberate practice.

Watch this short video about how to build self-control:

James Clear wrote an amazing article on his blog about boosting willpower. You can read it here.

The next time you are tempted to overspend and overindulge at an expensive restaurant, remember the Marshmallow Test and stay committed to your financial goals.

Be committed to your “Two Marshmallows” and stay disciplined.

It'll be sweet, I promise.

Do you understand this "Marshmallow Test" concept?

How can you apply it to your life right now to guide you towards your financial goals?

Leave a comment below and let us know! Our team will reply to give some ideas to help you too.

About the Author

Tim Wayne is the chief writer at Elite Financial Habits. He understands that the rich didn't grow their wealth using magic; it is simply an intelligent combination of mathematics, psychology and economics.

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