Postponed Pleasure

I received a book for Christmas titled A Book That Takes Its Time. In it there is an article on postponed pleasure which discusses the current need for instant gratification and its effects on people. Because of their need for instant gratification, people are missing out on a sense of anticipation, like waiting for Christmas morning to arrive. Not only that, but also people don’t appreciate what they have when they do get it. They are soon distracted by a new toy that they don’t have that someone told them they should have and the joy quickly evaporates.

People also aren’t willing to work at something. They want to be able to do it perfectly immediately, or they don’t want to do it at all. For example, when I started taking martial arts classes in high school in the 80’s, you had to work for 3 months before testing for your first belt, and then 6 months for the next belt and another 6 months for the next belt. Now schools are testing every few months to give students that sense of instant gratification because 6 months seems too far away and they lose interest. They need constant reinforcement in order to maintain interest in something. So, schools developed curriculum that required more belts over shorter periods of time so that students would want to go to the next level of the game, so to speak, and it gave the schools more income for more testing as well. Everybody wins! Except, they don’t really.

There is something to be said about working toward a goal and anticipating seeing it fulfilled that has been lost in a society of instant gratification. When we quickly get something, we just as quickly want to move on to a new thing. Our joy is short-lived and requires more and more to meet that ever-growing need. We are never happy. It is never enough. If we take the time to just enjoy the moment, like quietly watching the sunrise over the ocean (or even through your window at home), it gives the moment more…well just more. More joy and satisfaction for a goal achieved through time and dedication and sometimes through blood, sweat, and tears. The more we put into a goal, the more we will appreciate it when we reach that goal.

So, take the time to enjoy your life. Instant gratification is not all it’s cracked up to be. Take up a new hobby, like knitting, even if it means taking the time to learn new skills and practice. Your first project may look like a 5-year-old did it, but it is all about learning and enjoying the process. When you finally complete that project that made you pick up knitting as a goal, you will look back and laugh about the good times and the frustrating times and realize you enjoyed the ride. Life is the same. It’s not about the destination, but about the journey. Enjoy each day of the journey and each stop along the way; otherwise, who knows what you are missing out on.

One Step at a Time

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by something on your To Do List? You know it needs to be done, and there may even be a deadline approaching, but you just can’t seem to get started? I have several of those projects staring me in the face. Some days I procrastinate, and some days I can’t even bear to think about them. Today I had great plans for tackling at least one of those projects but was diverted by a problem with my car that took up over half of my morning. One of the biggest issues is planning to do it all, or most of it, in one day. That approach rarely works because of days like today, so we should take a page from Nehemiah’s playbook.

Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city. It was a daunting task that two other groups had failed to complete. Nehemiah approached the problem differently than the other groups, and that approach can be applied to any project. First, he started with prayer. There was nothing he did that wasn’t preceded by prayer. Next, he looked at the project objectively from every angle to see what needed to be done. Then, he designated out sections to different groups. Finally, he followed through despite obstacles and opposition.

Starting with prayer is always good advice for any situation we may encounter, but sometimes we don’t think about in when doing practical everyday tasks. God wants to be involved in even the smallest details of our lives.

Looking objectively at a daunting task can be overwhelming at first, but until we get all of the details down, we won’t know exactly what is required or the best way to approach it. It is like cooking a recipe. You need to know what ingredients you need for the recipe to see if you have them all in the kitchen. If not, you need to add a shopping trip to the list.

While you may not have other people helping you with a task, it still helps to break things down into smaller jobs. That way if time is limited, you can still accomplish part of the job. Progress of any kind is still progress.

Finally, it is just a matter of not letting the world and everyday problems get in your way. You have to keep working until the project is done. It may take longer than you first thought, but it doesn’t matter as long as it gets done.

Take advice from Nehemiah and tackle big tasks one step at a time. Don’t let naysayers get you down. Focus on the goal and keep moving. Let God lead and he will help you through step by step until you get to the finish line.