Overcoming the Instant Mentality: Understanding and Conquering the Desire for Quick Results

Overcoming the Instant Mentality: Understanding and Conquering the Desire for Quick Results

Yes, why do we all easily get caught up in the Instant mentality and desire to get fast results? The answer is because of the presence of cognitive errors called PRESENT BIAS.

Present bias is a type of human cognitive error that has been widely studied in behavioral economics. Present bias is inevitably one of the human psychological dimensions that often makes future financial life gloomy and messy.

The ordinary present is basically our tendency as humans (which are weak and make many mistakes) to appreciate rewards that can be enjoyed right away, rather than having to wait for positive rewards in the future.

We humans prefer “instant gratification”, or instant rewards that can be enjoyed immediately. We tend to be lazy and reluctant to do the opposite, namely “delayed gratification” or delaying current pleasures for positive results in the future.

The slogan is: if you can enjoy it right now, why wait so long.

Present bias was revealed in the following experiment. A group of respondents were given a choice: A) would they like to receive Rp. 1.5 million right away or B) would they receive Rp. 1.7 million next week. The majority of respondents chose option A or the first option. Many people do not like to wait too long, even though they will get a bigger return.

The true present bias is also shown in various everyday examples that we do. For example, the present trap can occur when people prefer to spend their money on buying new gadgets for the sake of present pleasure, for example, rather than using it for savings and investment for future financial preparation. A similar example: using existing money to buy various goods at an olshop feels like it can provide more “instant pleasure” than putting that money in savings for future needs.

Another example. A number of people prefer to eat delicious food that is available around them, rather than doing a diet that will be more beneficial for their health in the future. Eating well now is much more tempting than thinking about the slimness and health of the body in the future.

Another example. It’s better to lie on the bed while playing your cell phone right now, than having to complete a work assignment whose deadline is still next week.

Those are all examples of the present bias trap. The point is we want to immediately feel “instant pleasure” or “instant reward” right now. Now. We value rewards that can be felt right now (present bias). On the other hand, we tend to belittle something that is actually more useful, if we can only feel this something in the distant future (future bias).

The question is why do we humans tend to prefer “instant gratification” rather than having to postpone current pleasures for future benefits? Because it turns out that there really is a part in our nerve cells that likes something that is instantaneous and can be enjoyed immediately without having to work hard. Something that can be felt and enjoyed immediately is more tangible and this is more tempting than imagining future benefits that are still abstract.

Imagining and eating various delicious fried foods and cakes right now feels real, compared to imagining the benefits of diet for the future of health which feels still abstract. Lying on the bed at this time while scrolling through the cellphone feels more real and can be enjoyed immediately, compared to imagining the benefits of learning for the future which are still abstract.

On the other hand, delaying current pleasures for future benefits also really needs strong willpower. While not many people have strong willpower.

Delaying current pleasures for future success also often requires a lot of tiring and uncomfortable actions. Even though getting out of this comfort zone is not really liked by our nerve cells which prefer comfort (comfort zone) and tend to enjoy laziness.

Viewed from the perspective of our personal financial future, this present bias can have a variety of adverse impacts.

For example, like the example described above. Some people prefer to spend their money for pleasure now, rather than saving for the future. This kind of action will of course be less profitable for the future of our personal finances. Present bias will make us always tempted to spend money for pleasure now (present times), rather than saving it for the preparation of a more important future life.

The combination of present bias and instant gratification mentality , can also make us trapped to expect instant results right now, for the pleasure of now. An instant mentality that always wants immediate results, right now, can make us ignore the power of process and long persistence.

Even though we know, bright future results always require the ability to delay gratification today, be willing to work hard to carry out the process consistently, and continue to be persistent in the midst of various challenges.


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Engineering Student of Airlangga University in Indonesia. Love to share knowledge