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  • Writer's pictureKathie Scalf

Delayed Gratification

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my 37 years on this planet, it’s that nothing good comes quickly or easily. Whether it’s with regards to health, wealth, or relationships, the best things in life might be free but they definitely don’t come without hard work and the slow hands of Father Time. There are about a million tropes about delayed gratification, and for good reason; when it comes to winning the marathon of life, slow and steady ALWAYS wins the race.

We live in an instant gratification world of privilege with quite literally access to the entire planet at our fingertips. Whatever you could possibly need or want is ready to be delivered with the tap of a button and a credit card, be it basic necessities like food, clothing or shelter or frivolous whimsies of the hearts fleeting desires. Our internet is so fast we can access live streaming information from anywhere in the world at any time of day, and any time we get a single free moment we can open an app to see a rolling feed of what every friend, foe or celebrity is up to on multiple social media platforms. This mindset of “now takes too long” is warped and dangerous. It gives us a false sense of reality that every aspect of our lives should come with the same quickness and ease, when it’s in fact the opposite that is true.

Who you are is built on your daily habits, simple as that. Those miniscule things we do without even noticing add up to the sum total of our core being and the results we’re achieving. The slow, small efforts put in over time are the ones that produce the biggest outcomes; they’re an undeniable reflection of what kind of life we’re living. And there is no injection, pill, online course, or app that can replace that.

The most obvious example of this theory is of course weight loss. Ozempric is the newest fad in a long line of diet solutions from Slim Fast to PhenPhen to Adkins and South Beach, and what all of these passing fads have in common is that they do. not. work. There is no replacement for consistent healthy habits, and if you’re not going to alter your mindset and day-to-day actions nothing is going to change, regardless of how much you lose quickly. That’s the thing about weight – in the same way it takes years of unnoticeable bad behaviors to pack on the pounds, it takes just as long for it to come off. Anything that speeds that process up isn’t sustainable.

Romantic relationships have also become a casualty of instant gratification. Dating apps have been designed to mimic gambling games and they’re just as addictive. We have the opportunity to chat with hundreds of thousands of people all looking to match at our fingertips any time of day or night. One would think this would INCREASE the odds of finding a partner, when in fact it’s doing just the opposite. This gives the illusion that the “next best thing” might be just around the corner on the next swipe, leading to people never truly willing to settle down. It lessens the effort put in, which decreases the quality of relationships because there’s no true connection being made; for god’s sake the entire premise of dating apps is based on photos alone! And with the recent advances in technology with regards to filters and AI, you don’t even know if something as superficial as looks are as advertised. People are trading meaningful connections with long term, fulfilling satisfaction for constant, tiny microdoses of dopamine from strangers because its quicker and easier than putting in the work of finding a partner.

A couple of months ago, after years of setting grandiose, end-game focused goals and failing each time, I decided to focus only on hitting a few small changes and tracking it every day. These were things I was already doing a little but was very inconsistent with: getting 8 hours of sleep every night, walking 8k-10k steps every day, getting in 3 strength training sessions and 1 full body workout weekly, weighing in daily, and limiting my alcohol to 4 drinks per week. I didn’t and still don’t hit these goals each and every week, but tracking them has held me accountable and made me much more consistent. It also keeps me focused even when I’m traveling, which is always a huge trigger for me and when I tend to fall off the wagon. Keeping my fitness activity reasonable with simple walking and moderate strength conditioning has been much easier to maintain than my previous mistakes of shooting for daily HIIT cardio followed by 5 days of heavy lifting. And the results are paying off; even though daily I have up and down fluctuations, my average weight each week has dropped and resulted in 8lbs lost in a month, while my strength and endurance during training has went up. My mental health is thriving, I’m sleeping better and when I do flub up, it’s much more noticeable and makes me want to get back on track immediately.

Practicing patience and coming to the realization that long term gratification comes from long term, consistent effort brings me a great deal of comfort. We all want solutions to our problems right now and it can be easy to give up when you don’t see immediate results. Within my own career trajectory I have moments of wanting to scream because I’m still struggling financially following the chaos of the last few years with Covid and inflation. But just yesterday I received word I was accepted into the Nashville Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a very elite women’s food, beverage and hospitality society. While this doesn’t mean anything for my paygrade, it is a reflection of years of hard work and dedication to my continuing education and networking, which will ultimately open doors and opportunities for me money-wise. When I was starting my career at 23 I wanted it all right then; almost 15 years later I still don’t have it all, but I do have an impressive resume that includes senior market territory management and titles of Nashville Dame, Executive Bourbon Steward, Certified Cicerone, and being awarded WSET Level 2 in Wine with Distinction, which is beyond the wildest dreams of 23 year old Kathie.

If you want something, delayed gratification is key. Nothing good or sustainable ever just falls into our laps. This doesn’t mean you can only have a good life if you’re out here grinding and sweating and killing yourself; the secret’s in the small steps. Have faith that a combination of consistency and patience is the key to success, then apply it. And remember that perfection is impossible, so accept your missteps, learn the lesson, and get back on track and can’t go wrong!


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