Instant gratification – why short term gain doesn’t always work for the long term

Everybody loves instant gratification.

Social media, email, mobile phones and credit cards have no doubt contributed to the current culture of instant gratification! I know I do it myself. I’ll send a quick text or email anytime rather than waiting, I’ll tweet or Facebook my thoughts from my mobile rather than waiting to share with someone in real life. We get pleasure from doing something now and getting instant feedback and results.

What’s wrong with that?

In many ways nothing, if it’s working for you in both the short and long term.

Personally I find my best ideas come when I’m disconnected. How often are we disconnected these days? Rarely even on weekends or holidays.

The other challenge that comes from this push for instant gratification is that tasks that aren’t easy or urgent get pushed to the bottom of the pile. This causes business stress as it’s not always the urgent, or quick tasks, that need to be done but the important tasks that take time and focus.

For businesses, the constant pressure to show instant results is dangerous. Teams risk working in a constant state of chaos feeling chronic disappointment at not instantly obtaining the expected results.

I know this is a challenge we face in the PR world. Often sending news announcements or pitches and having people wondering within hours where the coverage is. The risk is that long lead magazines are disregarded, not to mention the importance of fostering relationships – which don’t always result in instant rewards.

Managing the craving for instant gratification isn’t easy. But in the long run, we need to think more about the quality of results and continue encouraging healthy working relationships.