By JER HOUGHTON
The need for immediacy. It’s not just millennials, it’s everybody. And for students, it’s a dilemma.
Over the last two generations, people have become accustomed to having what they want, when they want it. What started with fast food now has everything at our fingertips.
Convenience is a good thing. It keeps our lives efficient, but are we now entitled to have all our wishes come true?
Our clothing needs to be delivered to our doorstep overnight, our taste in music and video needs to be recommended on the spot and our travel needs to be guided by the best traffic routes… the list of possibilities goes on.
We respond to our impulses with, “I want it, I must have it.” And we demand it, because we can.
Consider the Stanford University “Marshmallow Test,” a classic psychological experiment on delayed gratification in which children are offered a small portion of marshmallows. If they wait for the person to return to the room, they will be rewarded with a much larger portion.
Many children down the marshmallows right away. Those who could wait, the study showed, had better performance in school and greater success in general.
So how can we delay gratification to focus on what we must do to complete what is asked from us and not get frustrated in the process?
Consider Malcolm Gladwell and his “10,000-Hour-Rule.” In his book, Outliers, he claims it takes around 10,000 hours to learn something and be proficient in it – and the only way to achieve such expertise is in doing it the “correct” way.
If a college diploma offers approximately 20 hours of classes per week and we spend roughly 17 hours a week on top of classes doing readings and assignments (according to the National Survey of Student Engagement), this means that with the homework and class time combined, you will graduate with over 2,000 hours of applied learning experience, more than one-fifth of meeting Gladwell’s requirement in becoming an expert in any skill or trade.
How then do we get on Gladwell’s road to success?
As students, it’s very difficult to be efficient in finding time for assignments and doing them right when we are constantly being interrupted by these impulsive ideas and things we want fulfilled.
With this comes “dreamy” procrastination, to imagine obtaining these wishes for ourselves and getting no where in the process.
The college experience makes us want to be a part of everything, if not everything. So we focus on calming the “FOMO,” the fear of missing out by checking our social media as to be a part of what’s going on in and outside of the classroom.
Obviously, technology augments the social demand of student life thus playing into the whole “FOMO” phenomenon. But underneath that is our inability to control these impulses.
This comes back to our reluctance to do anything we don’t want to do. We don’t have the patience for waiting because we never put in the hours to learn how to delay or channel what we want.
The result? We frustrate more easily when feeling forced to focus on something like meeting an assignment deadline or preparing for a test.
What’s interesting is we are getting the wrong kind of emotion.
What we should be doing is fear doing less than we’re capable of, but instead we’re irritated at being forced to do what is asked of us in what we deem “unfair.”
We will always have impulses but if we don’t control ourselves – and be proud in taking the time out to do things – we may not be getting the most out of our 2,000-hour college education.
All good things come to those who wait. Learn to ride the wave of frustration and it just may pay off.
Patience is a virtue, proficiency is in the delay, and not everything happens in an instant.
Would you like a marshmallow now or later?