How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Instant Gratification

On this episode of THE COMPANY WE KEEP podcast, host Jason Pearl wants to help you avoid the pitfalls of instant gratification in both business and in life.

All right. All right. Welcome to another episode of The Company We Keep podcast. I am your host, Jason Pearl. Really excited for you to be joining me again today. This is a podcast for everyday business owners, entrepreneurs, high performers, and anyone who wants to think differently about growth, think differently about success, and how to achieve a better balance in both business and in life.

And in this episode today, we're going to be talking about instant gratification. Specifically about the dangers around instant gratification and how instant gratification can pull you away from the things that make you successful, can pull you away from your long-term goals, that can pull you away and distract you from the things that you really should be doing on a daily basis.

Obviously, we live in a world today that is fueled by instant gratification, whether it's the way we get our food, or the way we get our entertainment, or the way we shop for things online, shopping and all those outlets, or even in some ways how people find their future mates, whether it be online dating or things of that nature. Instant gratification is something that really is consuming our day-to-day, specifically in the United States, but really around the world. And as I was preparing for this episode, I came across a pretty interesting article called "The Real Issue With Instant Gratification."


This is an article that was written by a board-certified internal medicine physician and New York Times bestselling author, Austin Perlmutter. He discusses the dangers of instant gratification and how our world is filled with it and reasons why we need to be educated, we need to understand the dangers around instant gratification.

In his article, he talks about how instant gratification fuels impulsive decisions and may detract from our healthy quality of life. He also goes on to say each time we make an impulsive decision, whether it be an unhealthy snack or buying something online, our brain pathways for those actions are actually reinforced and strengthened, making it easier to fall into patterns of decision-making when it comes to instant gratification, which ultimately means it's harder to break the cycle if it's something you do often. And he also goes on to say the bigger picture, the more we overvalue instant gratification, the more likely we are to be distracted from longer-term meaningful goals. And this is really where I want to focus this podcast episode today is talking about some personal experience that I have when it comes to instant gratification and also some ways to potentially work towards staying focused and avoiding these things that cause us to make decisions to give us instant gratification.

Ultimately, in Dr. Perlmutter's article, he ends by saying an over-reliance on instant gratification behaviors can create problems by changing our brains, distracting ourselves from more meaningful pursuits, and leading to destructive financial, social, and health outcomes. Now, again, that doesn't mean that anytime you make a decision that makes you happy at the moment that you're gonna destroy everything that you've worked for. That's certainly not what I'm saying, but it's a cautionary tale, especially in the world that we live in today, that we need to be aware of how we operate and what we do and how it can affect the greater good that we're trying to accomplish or the goals that we're trying to accomplish.

So when we talk about this podcast, pertaining to leadership and business and growth and balance and things like that, I thought this would be a really interesting topic to start to dissect and to really dive into.


And I know for me much like others like you out there, instant gratification is something that's hard to avoid. I know when you're an online entrepreneur or you're a business owner, somebody like me with the podcast, instant gratification comes through social media channels. Did you know? I posted something? Did I get a did I get a follow? Did I get a share? That's you know did somebody write a comment on it? And how many do I have, and every time I check, Facebook or Instagram or LinkedIn and I see I got another notification that somebody liked my posts you get that shot of dopamine. You just want more and more of it. So I know that's something that myself and others have dealt with. When it comes to business, right? It's the idea of, trying to hit the home, run in business, trying to sell the biggest deal or, trying to make the biggest deal and all of those things, which could potentially be good and also could potentially be bad depending on what you've defined as success and what your goals are.

Certainly consumerism. When, just being able to, pop, open your phone and, hop on the Amazon app, which I've done a ton of times, and you purchase what you need to purchase. And it's here in two days because we live in a Prime world. Or whether it's investing, you're looking to find the next penny stock that becomes the hottest stock in the world. Those things where you're just trying to go from point a to point Z very quickly is how you define instant gratification.

And I know that many of you like me that are out there that are trying to be better leaders and trying to achieve growth in your life and trying to achieve balance, instant gratification oftentimes can throw us off that path.


So what I wanted to do is share a few areas of my career, where you know, where we can actually talk about focusing on building and how important it is to build the right things, to receive the gratification as time goes on. And I wanted to talk about a few examples of where I been able to realize that in my career,

So I talked about earlier in the first couple of episodes of this podcast, that my first professional job out of college was with Wells Fargo. I worked for a consumer finance division of Wells Fargo, and I managed retail branches where we would sell all sorts of different consumer finance products: loans, and credit cards and, things of that nature. And really early on in my career at Wells Fargo, I was the manager that would be the fixer. Every couple of years I was being transferred to a different branch and I was going in to help a maybe underperforming branch perform better. And going in and taking this assignment early on in my career really helped me focus my efforts and my time on understanding how important it is to build the right habits, to build the right processes, to really have foundational work that needs to be done in the beginning so you can continue to succeed in the long-term. Again, in a situation like this, patience is key because if I think of one of my first assignments that I was hired to go in and fix this area of the business, I remember getting to the branch and I remember thinking to myself, All right. There's really no place else to go but up. We're at the bottom of the barrel and the branch wasn't performing well, the employees were unhappy and it got to a point where I understood early on that we just need to start focusing on the basics.

Get back to the basics, focus on the things that are gonna make us successful, which ultimately really came down to just, understanding people and talking to the customers and really understanding what they wanted. But patience is key to be able to properly build something. There are tons of analogies out there, but any time you look at a home builder building a home. They don't start from the roof down. Cause there's nothing that you can balance the roof on. You start from the foundation. So you dig the foundation and then, here in the Northeast, they dig the basement and then they build the foundation around it and then they build the first floor and then the walls, and then they build the second floor and then the walls. And then whether it's the third floor or the roof, they build from the bottom up. And that was something that early on in my career I learned because if I was going to be changing the trajectory of these branches, I had to go back to the basics and build the foundational stuff in all these branches to make sure we succeed.

We were successful in the pursuits that we had, and for 10 years, this is what I did. And I'm so thankful for that opportunity because it really taught me the importance of foundational work. And foundational work is almost is an oxymoron when you're talking about instant gratification. To do foundational work means that you need to focus on the details, focus on the basics and be able to build the right types of things so you can have more success. And again, patience was key.

Another assignment I've talked about is when I took over the sales and marketing function of a financial services company, they had fairly stagnant growth for the better part of the last, five or 10 years. And I was brought in to make some changes and really help the company grow. And I remember in that first year is so difficult to just move the needle. And there was very little instant gratification. As a matter of fact, there were a lot of unwinding and failures that had to take place before we could get to rock bottom and rebuild.

And I remember telling my team and telling the people that I worked for that listen, year one, we're going to come in and we're going to assess what's going on. And we're going to break things down. We're basically going to break everything. And then year two, we're going to rebuild it. And you're going to see small, but incremental improvements. And then year three, Is where the business is going to take off. And it's exactly what happened. It was a lot of work in year one, with a lot of changes and new processes being put into place end of year one and year two. Motivation and confidence-building in year two, and then year three, things just took off. Year three and four, and really quite honestly, five were just phenomenal growth years.

And the reason that we saw that growth is because when I took over the assignment, I had to understand what was going on. Number one, and then I had to break down what was happening that was not good. And then start to rebuild the foundation of where we want it to go. And I think there are so many opportunities out there that people look over or that they give up on because they're so afraid of the hard work or they're so afraid of spending a year or two rebuilding things and rebuilding the foundation of the business to have the right levels of success. And this is exactly what we did. And we were able to see record growth in, in basically years three, four, and five that I was at this assignment.

Another example is Nacre Consulting, my consulting firm. I started it in, mid-2017. And, every year I've grown the business, but year one obviously was not as successful as year four is for me. Because I had to build not only my own individual reputation for my new business, but I needed to get some clients and I needed to work with them. And I needed to focus on their success because I knew very early on with starting a consulting firm that if I was going to succeed, my clients obviously needed to succeed.

Being a sales, marketing growth consultant with my firm and, the consultants that work with me to help grow other businesses. It's about them. It's not about us. I had to take it slow. I had to really focus on my clients and focus on what their needs were and really focus on building them up because I knew if I did that properly, I'd have all the other things that would work out in the future. And that's exactly what happened. But if I was looking at goals that I have now and tried to achieve them in year one, I think I would have failed miserably if that was the goal that I set. Luckily I was smart enough to have the patience and know that foundational work is critical.

And if you do the critical foundational work, you'll see growth. Foundational work doesn't end. You continue to build on top of that foundational work. And that is certainly something that we've been doing. We're almost at the end of year four each year has gotten better and better.

And I know that there's a ton of success left for us, but it's because we're focusing on the things that are most important, like serving our clients. And then finally, another example is this podcast. This is going to be episode 11. And I can't expect that my podcast is going to be like the Joe Rogan Experience, right? The top-rated and top subscribed to podcast in the country. No, I certainly can't. I have to build. I have to build my point of view and I have to build my audience and I have to be able to interact and connect with you guys because if I don't connect with you guys, you're not going to connect with me and you're not going to listen anymore.

If I was focused on the number of listeners every single day or the number of downloads or the number of subscriptions. It's going to distract me from the work I'm doing here, which is trying to really connect with you guys and help talk about the importance of leadership and give you some tactics and skills to help you be a better leader, better people, better human beings. Grow, but also have the right level of balance in your life. That's what this podcast is all about. And it takes foundational work, which is what we've been doing here in the first 11 episodes. There's going to be so many more to come but you have to build it the right way.


That being said, there are five points that I wanted to share with you guys about how you can build success and avoid the pitfalls of instant gratification you should in your world.

So whether you're listening to this podcast, looking through a lens of your business, maybe you're as a business owner and entrepreneur, or whether you're just looking at this as an individual, there is five kinds of takeaways that I want to share with you that I know have helped me, and I'm really confident we'll be able to help you.

The first point that I have to help build success and avoid the pitfalls of instant gratification comes down to defining success for you and your business. We've talked about this before success is a choice. You've already heard me say it, you're going to continue to hear me say it again and again, in these episodes, but defining success for you. Whether it be individually for you as a person, or whether it be in your business, defining success is critically important. And once you find that success, you need to make that choice of success to be your beacon or your compass of everything that you do. So you need to, whatever you say that success is for your business or for your life personally, that needs to be a mantra that you say over and over again to yourself. And you need to use that as your compass for your decision-making.

Number two is set micro-goals for yourself or for your business that align with your long-term goals or success. Obviously, if you started a business today and said, Hey, I want to be a, I want to be a million-dollar business, or I'm going to be a $10 million business. Doesn't happen on day one, right? It likely may not happen on day 365. It could take years to get to a million or 10 million or whatever those goals are for you, or however, you've defined success if it's not revenue-based. But what you need to do is set micro-goals because those micro goals will keep you focused on the work that you need to do to achieve the long-term goals.

So setting those micro-goals is going to be critical for weekly and monthly and quarterly and annual levels of success, and being able to assess whether or not you feel you have been successful. So setting those micro-goals, I think are really important. And then when you set those micro-goals, you also have to celebrate those. So when you achieve the micro-goals, you have to celebrate those. Because if you set out to build a business in your industry and you want it to be a $10 million business, it could take you 20 years to get there. You don't only want to pop the bottle of champagne when you get to year 20 and you hit that goal, you want to have incremental micro-goals that are going to help you stay focused, stay energized, stay confident, and stay healthy in your path to your goals.

Point number three of building success and avoiding the pitfalls of instant gratification comes around the company you keep. You have to surround yourself with a good team of people. So if we're talking about it through the business lens, the employees that you surround yourself with, or your board of directors that you hire, however you do that whatever type of business makeup, you have to surround yourself with a good team of people or on the personal side, a good amount of confidants that believe in your success, believe in your goals, and believe in your mission, and are there to help you achieve that success that you have set forth. From an individual basis, there's only so much that you can do. I'm a big fan of the term "iron sharpens iron." I know obviously, it's a church term, it's a Bible verse, but it's something that is really important. And it's why it's one of the main tenants of this podcast, right? The Company We Keep, that's the people you surround yourself with. And to build success the right way, you need to have that good team that maybe when you get off track a little bit keeps you focused on what the mission is, what the goals are, why you're doing, what you're doing, why you set out to have the business that you set out to have, or why you set out to have the life you want to live.

Point four of how to build success and avoid the pitfalls of instant gratification is making sure you define a set of metrics that keep you focused and keep you aligned to achieve your goals.

So we talked earlier about micro-goals, and about how you have to set micro-goals. Normally metrics are more of the daily things that, that you can achieve, the daily goals that you can achieve, that help you get there or weekly or monthly. But in the business world, they're oftentimes defined as KPIs or key performance indicators.

Or another popular term out there is OKRs: and that stands for objectives and key results. Those are business terms, but they can be interchangeably used in your personal life as well. But make sure you have a defined set of metrics that keep you focused in line is really important.

In a throwback to my Wells Fargo days, there was a program that I had and I called it "Daily Vitamins." And I had salespeople that reported to me and in a way that I created kind of a fun little game, I had this plan for all of my salespeople and there were basically five things that you could achieve to have a healthy business day. And every day, their goal was to hit one of these metrics, and if they hit that every day, five days a week, normally 20 to 21 business days a month, they would likely have a very healthy and very successful month.

So I think it's super important to do the same thing within your business or within your personal life is to set your daily vitamins, right? Set your key metrics and work towards those and work towards that success on a daily basis.

And then finally, a way that I think is really important to build success is to serve others. Staying grounded, staying humble, and serving others in any capacity will always keep you focused on the greater good. It's always going to keep you focused on what's most important. This is a podcast where we're talking about leadership and growth and balance. But when you talk about the balance side of things, I know something that's been life-changing for me was my ability to really open up my eyes and open up my heart when I started serving others. I run a consulting firm, so I am always in service to my clients. So I serve them. But also outside of my business life, serving others personally, whether it be volunteering or whether it be at my high school ministry that I lead, or whatever the case may be, serving others keeps you grounded and keeps you humble.

And when you're grounded and when you're humble, it's so much easier to see, to speak, and to think clearer then than when you're just so motivated, and so maybe self-absorbed, you miss things. And then when you've absorbed it, it creates that need for instant gratification.


As Dr. Perlmutter said, over-reliance on instant gratification behaviors can create problems and could lead to destructive financial, social, or health outcomes. So serving others, I think is super important because that helps you stay healthy in your mind, and your heart, and in your life.

And if you can take these five steps and put this into play in your life and in your business, I think you're going to find that you're going to be more focused, you're going to be more ready to succeed, and you're going to feel that every single day you are moving closer and closer towards your goals.

I hope you've enjoyed this episode. I know this is something that, as I'm talking to you, I'm saying the same stuff to myself as well, because it's really important that we avoid these pitfalls of instant gratification. I'm not here to be a downer or to be a wet blanket and tell you you can't have fun and enjoy some of the success in the present. I'm just simply trying to call attention to some of the pitfalls that are so easy for myself and for all of us to fall into.

So if you're enjoying this podcast, which I hope you are, would love for you to just subscribe just hit the button at however you subscribe to your podcasts. But would really appreciate that.

You can find any contact information for me on my website, Really appreciate you spending the time with me today. My name is Jason Pearl. Thanks for keeping me company today. This is The Company We Keep podcast until next time. I'm out. Peace.