Passion and opportunity are very popular reasons why people pursue certain goals in certain industries. Maybe you love to write, so you pursue the dream to become a writer. Maybe you see an opportunity to provide delivery services because people can’t move freely these days because of the pandemic. It may take time to become a bigshot, but you believe you have something worth pursuing. But whether passion or opportunity is currently motivating someone to pursue a goal… the reality is that eventually, most people quit on their pursuit long before they can realize those goals.
I realized something today that I hadn’t really thought about up until now. Delayed appreciation is a problem that many pursuers struggle with. And I believe it is one of the more significant reasons why people give up on pursuing their goals.
Have you heard of Delayed Gratification?
According to Britannica.com, delay of gratification is the act of resisting an impulse to take an immediately available reward in the hope of obtaining a more valued reward in the future. The ability to delay gratification is essential to self-regulation, or self-control.
So for instance, if you are sure to get pocket money every month..let’s say about $15… then instead of spending that money on what costs $15 or less, why not save up, let it accumulate… until you can purchase something in the future worth $500 or more?
Simple enough, right?
But what about Delayed Appreciation?
I tried to look it up on the internet to see if it was a term that already had a meaning… and well… I think it’s safe for me to use it without seeming out of context with someone else’s definition.
When I talk about delayed appreciation I am talking about delaying THE NEED to feel appreciated.
For many of the people pursuing large or life-changing goals… as they make progress, they begin to realize just how much they are overcoming personal obstacles.
The person with the dream to become a writer has just finished their first chapter. The person with the dream to become a music producer has just produced their first song. The person with the dream to own a retail store has just sold their 4th pair of sneakers.
Strides of progress that means so much to them… but most likely mean very little to everyone else.
People can’t always relate to what you are going through. They don’t know the feeling of finally publishing your first podcast episode. Or uploading your first animated short. Or getting your first freelance client.
To add to that… they have no idea what it took to get you to that point. No matter how small that kind of progress may seem.
Not only do they not celebrate with you… they may not appreciate the effort.
Don’t get me wrong… it’s not intentional. No one is secretly hoping you fail at all that you do. That is a blog post for another day.
It’s just that, they can’t and probably don’t have time… to appreciate the baby steps you are taking.
But is this a real problem? Is the fact that people around not appreciating your effort… a bad thing? Can it actually cause you to quit?
Definitely! No doubt!
You have to understand that the reality of pursuing goals is that they take a really long time to accomplish. Years… and sometimes it could take an entire lifetime.
The temptation to quit comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. One of which is the fact that no one cares about the work you’re doing… right now.
Because what you are creating… isn’t done yet.
The product you are manufacturing isn’t done yet, so why should they care about manufacturing and whether or not you are getting better at it?
The company I co-own provides software development services for other businesses. We build a lot of our systems from the ground up.
When approaching prospects for the first time. We are often received with a lot of skepticism.
That’s easy, we talk about wanting to build them a system that doesn’t exist yet. Something they cannot see yet.
It doesn’t help our case that after our clients have described the mega system they want us to build… that we respond by saying, “It is doable. But it’s going to take a long time to put together”.
The early stages of development are often the most difficult. There is nothing much to report on the progress because work on the “visual” side of the system usually hasn’t begun at that point.
Towards, the middle of the project, this is when people get interested. This is when people start to understand what is actually going on. By that time, we have shown them WORKING bits and pieces of their final goal. It’s like a teaser trailer for a movie they have always wanted to watch. They are seeing things come together. There is often very heavy feedback and participation at this stage.
Towards the end, they are more than excited to make sure we launch as soon as possible. Make sure that we have what we need, to get things done right. Excitement is often high here.
Then the launch…
Of course, there are bugs…
We fix them…
People get to use the mega-system…
We fix those…
Slowly… but eventually… they begin to really understand what has been happening.
Why does it take all that time. Why do we ask so many questions about how things work. Why do we have back-and-forth email exchanges about certain design choices.
They start to get it…
Sometimes… they even think about what they would have if even more time was spent on that same goal of theirs…
Sometimes… they appreciate it…
Not just what they have at the end… but also, that we were there to write a line, after line, after line of code… slowly bringing an idea into fruition.
To be honest, it isn’t always easy doing what we do…
But those inevitable moments when our once skeptical prospect turns into a satisfied customer… those moments are what we sometimes live for.
Delaying the need for appreciation is a teachable moment. Not just for you… but for the people that you think will be affected by the final results of your effort in the long term.
You can attain and maintain a unique kind of success if you learn to understand why you should delay the need to feel appreciated for what you do. And I personally believe that it is a more wholesome kind of success to desire.
Not only do you create something that looks or functions great for your audience… but they now realize or at the very least appreciate the effort that went into creating what you can now share with them.
Unless you have been in this situation before… you may not understand what I’m talking about.
But trust me, talk to people you think have been working long and hard on the same goal year after year.
Ask them what have been some of the highlights of their journey so far.
You will be shocked at how they valued positive comments… encouraging comments… comments appreciation for the effort… more than even whatever payout they got for the final work they put out.
When a mentor of theirs said, “great job. You remind me of younger me”.
Or, “dude… I have watched you all these years… you have come a long way and are getting better and better”.
These moments are powerful. Appreciation is powerful.
I want to make a small confession… I have a rule that I never bash or negatively criticize whatever someone has created. Not in private and not in public. It’s often easy to say, “that artwork you drew of Denzel does not look like Denzel”.
But it is often hard to realize that… they already know.
If they had that skill at that moment… they would have nailed a portrait of Denzel without breaking a sweat.
So instead, I encourage them by reposting what they did… leaving a comment saying that “this is fire”… and in some cases, taunt them and say… “this is definitely better than your last. You seem to be improving… how far will you push yourself next time?”.
People are ALREADY aware that they need to practice to get better. But they sometimes feel like they are in a hostile environment where people will not tolerate anything but the very best… even from a teenager just starting out.
And if they are slow to add to their personal progress… that environment can feel like it’s getting ever more hostile. Almost pressuring them to reconsider life choices.
Eventually, because of others not reinforcing the appreciation they have for what the dreamers do… they quit.
I have seen it in a handful of people I know.
I myself almost gave in to the temptation to quit.
But… I didn’t.
Instead… I realized that there were ways to overcome this temptation to quit.
And if you have been following this blog and podcast… you have definitely read or listened to me talk about them.
Associate with people that are after the things you are after.
Read books on how to overcome challenges in your industry.
Focus on habits that align with what you want to attain and drop those that don’t.
Etc… etc… etc…
If you remember my definition of self-development… it’s about turning yourself into the type of person that gets whatever they go after.
If you have a burning desire to be, to do, or to possess something… then it is up to you to figure out what you need to work on about yourself… so that you can begin to create the type of person that gets what they desire.
Even if it means… you having to read a book :)
In closing, I just want to say that… the best way to specifically deal with the issue of delayed appreciation… is to proactively associate with like-minded people. And do your part in appreciating what your friends, family, partners are working on. This really goes a long way.
They will never ever ever ever ever forget… the first person that proactively encouraged them, helped them, or protected them from negativity… when everyone else was dismissive.
Never delude yourself. Pursuing a life-changing goal is definitely one of the hardest things you can ever choose to do on this planet.
But that burden is easier to bear when you feel that certain people get you and want you to keep going.
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