“How do I stay committed to a long-term goal when ‘life’ just seems to get in the way”.  

As I Confidence & Life Transition Coach, I hear this question often. And my answer always is, there are a handful of circumstances and reasons for this occurring. But today I want to talk to you about one of the most common reasons that this unwanted cycle can keep occurring

This is due to our relationship with ‘instant gratification‘.  i.e. People getting distracted from their long-term goals and, instead, opting for more enjoyable, enticing, short-term activities. 

However you look at it, the lure of short-term pleasure is a tough temptation to avoid.  We are hard-wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain, meaning this little tendency can be VERY enticing & hard to manage if it goes unnoticed.

If this is something you battle with, here are 5 reasons why you might be struggling with this sneaking self-sabotaging behavior (based on the research of Psychologist Shahram Heshmat)

#1) The Desire to Avoid Delay

It’s very uncomfortable for us to deny ourselves of things we want.  All of our habitual instincts are set to go after & seize opportunities for pleasure. But it is these impulses which can often lead us off track.  

If this is a pattern that runs in your life, I recommend you take a look at your default response to avoiding discomfort and seeking pleasure – to see what your tolerance is like!  

How impulsive are you in your decisions? 

How willing are you to be uncomfortable and how long for? 

And does this tolerance match what’s needed to meet your long-term goal?  

There is no right or wrong answer here. It’s just important to be honest with yourself on whether this is the cause of the obstacle.

#2) Uncertainty

Generally, we are all born with nearly infinite certainty and trust in others.  But over time we learn to be less trusting of others and of our future.  

This uncertainty can cause us to begin to value the less beneficial but ‘certain-and-immediate’ options, over the more beneficial, ‘uncertain-and-long-term’ outcomes.  

So how are you with uncertainty? Is your relationship with uncertainty impacting your ability to commit to your long-term goals?

#3) Imagination

Choosing delayed gratification requires the ability to envision your desired future, in order to forego your current desires and tempting pleasures.

If you cannot paint a vivid/appealing picture of your future, you have little motivation to plan for it.  

Future Self Journalling is an excellent ritual to help with this! Check out @the.holistic.psychologist on Instagram for some great tutorials on this journaling practice

#4) Emotion Regulation

Our ability to regulate our emotions can impact our tendency towards instant gratification, as well as our ability to demonstrate delayed gratification.

As a very simple example, if you’re someone who regularly experiences emotional stress, this can lean you towards choices that will immediately improve our mood (i.e. pleasurable choices and temptations to make you feel better in the moment) Whereas, those who have developed stronger emotion regulation are able to lean into the discomfort of delayed -gratification, as their general emotions aren’t making them feel uncomfortable.  

There’s only so much discomfort we can experience all at once! 

Therefore, if you’re wanting to learn how to lean into the discomfort of delayed-gratification, developing stronger emotional regulation can be a game-changer.

If this is something you are wanting to develop & master in your life, I recommend you listen to Episode #1 of my Podcast – The ‘C’ Bomb, where I take you through the steps on mastering your mind & emotions.

#5) Anticipation

Interestingly anticipation can actually influence our decisions to delay gratification and also seek instant gratification.

Humans generally like to anticipate positive things and dislike the anticipation of negative things.  Therefore your expectations of the outcome can play a key part in whether you are sticking to the long road or deciding to take a different, shorter/more appealing road? 

So – which of these 5 reasons stood out to you? 

By identifying the reason ‘why‘ you are getting distracted is the first step to changing this behavior and changing your results!


  • Rebecca Sparks

    Confidence Coach | Human Behavior Expert | Founder of The Daily Guru

    As a coach, it’s my job to connect you with your true self; to help you remove internal & external roadblocks, whilst building awareness around your identity, core needs, self-confidence and your life goals. I do this by getting to know you. By holding up a mirror to your internal beliefs & default thinking and by helping you unravel the challenges which have arisen in your life & to help you move forward. I help you look at life with a fresh perspective. To identify where you want to be, what’s holding you back and to then help you move forwards. I have always seen Growth and Development as vital parts of anyone’s health and happiness and also one of the most rewarding experiences we can all embrace.