“Never give up what you want most for what you want now.”


In the late 1960s, The Marshmallow Experiment was conducted by researchers at Stanford University. Children were presented with a marshmallow and told that when the adult left the room, the child could eat the treat OR, wait 15 minutes until the adult returns and be presented with ANOTHER, thus enjoy two instead of one. Most did not eat the treat immediately, but only 1/3 of those waited any time at all waited until the adult re-entered the room to give them another.

15 years later, each child was reviewed based on SAT score, BMI, and other measurements. Turns out, the children who waited for the second treat overall had higher test scores, were healthier or more fit, and were considered more “successful” than the ones who ate the treats sooner, or overall higher achievers in whatever professional field they had chosen.

The ability to delay gratification, or be more future-focused, is proven to be a quality of many successful people. If you have a tendency to be more present-focused and have a tendency to act on impulse, or struggle to persist without distractions toward your long-term goals, only living “in the moment,” do some research on how you can become more future-focused. For example, try writing down your goals and then working BACKWARDS to determine the actions you must take and a timeframe for them, similar to what you would do if you had an appointment and had to be on time.

It’s important to have balance, too. If you think you are too future-focused and find that you sometimes lack enjoyment in the present, find techniques you can use to develop that as a strength. For example, force yourself to stop and listen to the sounds around you, identify specific scents in a room, and put your cell phone away when you are walking or waiting for something.

I’m interested – what have you done to help yourself become more focused in the present OR in the future?