Have you heard about the Marshmallow test? 4 year-olds are seated at a table with a big, fluffy yummy marshmallow. They aren’t told they couldn’t have it. On the contrary, they are told they could have it, BUT if they wait until the researcher comes back, they can have TWO marshmallows.
This test tracks the ability to delay gratification. Four year olds that could successfully hold out against temptation would later go on to be successful adults — whatever that means.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not then an act, but a habit. ~ Aristotle
This means that habits of self-mastery start early. But that cannot be the whole story. I have no problem with patiently building a business, rather than taking the easy win of a job. But I don’t have the discipline to maintain a fitness regime when there are other things I’d rather be doing. By this standard, do I pass or fail an adult version of the Marshmallow Test?
Why Do We Fail?
The plethora of made and often-broken New Year’s resolutions demonstrates that we all struggle, somewhere, with some aspect of discipline.
My own struggle with self-mastery is allowing myself to fiddle with details and chase easy wins while allowing the bigger (harder) things to slide.
I’m working on a resource on the topic, and I want to know where your struggle lies. Is it knowing when to quit? Is it distractions? What would you find most useful in a resource like this? Please leave your answers in the comments!