Instant gratification. That’s what we want. It’s the thing we’ve grown accustomed to with the rapid growth of technology. We place an order, and we expect that order to be fulfilled whether in a few minutes (coffee shop) or a few days (Amazon purchase). The virtue of patience is becoming a distant memory and scarce trait. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to wait or enjoy free time. We expect our days to be stocked full of distractions, deadlines, and multi-tasking, especially at our jobs. We want to be busy. Without it, we’re left twiddling our thumbs and having a staring contest with the clock on our computer screen. The day passes by at the speed of molasses as compared to a furiously fast jet plane when we’re busy.
I’ve fallen victim to instant gratification. In the last several years, I’ve lived my life in fast forward. I was pushing myself to learn new things, go above and beyond on assignments, and continuously search for the next step. First, my focus was getting through the drudgery of high school, and then I quickly moved to a junior college environment and kicked butt in the academic reputation department. After that, it was choosing where to spend two years knocking out my BA. Then after that, it was all about job hunting and finding the first professional stepping stone. In the midst of all that, I ended and started relationships, celebrated milestones and experienced loss. I know I felt happy so many times during the past several years (I have photographic proof). The truth is, when we’re so busy living our lives in the fast lane, are we truly allowing ourselves the time to enjoy our lives? Or are we just focused on the next project, next deadline and next major step?
“When you delay instant gratification, you’ll experience long-term satisfaction.”
This week, I started my first job post-college. The first week of any job is always different. You’re getting used to your new surroundings, trying to develop relationships with your co-workers and impress your supervisor, and realizing you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. My first few days gave me nothing to occupy my time with… no deadlines, no projects, and no meetings. It’s been a lot of thumb-twiddling, ear bud popping and website reading. After the first couple days, I felt frustrated. Each day felt extensively longer than the last, and I was glancing at my clock way more than needed. Then I thought about the root of my frustration: that same privilege of instant gratification. In this case, it’s like I had placed an expedited order on some new projects to work on that had a delayed arrival date.
I realized that even though we live in a society of quick service, on-time delivery and fast-paced living – it doesn’t mean that we have to get agitated when life sometimes switches to the slow lane. Things are bound to pick up at work. After all, I am still the “new girl.” Soon enough I will be swimming in projects, and before I know it the clock will read 5 p.m. and the workday will be over.