By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

Wouldn’t it be nice to suddenly have a seven-figure booming business, an audience in the hundreds of thousands and all the free time in the world?  

You would be an overnight success story.

But here is the thing, the connection to this success wouldn’t be deep.  

I have coached many clients on a mission to find career clarity. Some clients (and I am lucky to only have had a few) want to be handed an answer on a silver platter within the first hour, while the others are willing to put in the work and dedicate themselves to find their best possible path forward.  

The latter clients are the ones I know will succeed in the long term, because when you are willing to work for what you want the success and gratification are incomparable to that of anything instantly passed on.

Here are three reasons why hard work and persistence will pay off greater than instant gratification in business and in life.

1. Instant gratification creates addictive tendencies.

No matter how developed we become, there are still the cavemen like tendencies built into our psychological functioning. Our brains are wired to prioritize short-term needs over long-term goals. The brain responds to short-term desires of satisfaction by releasing dopamine, a pleasure hormone that we crave more and more of. 

This chemical reaction combined with the loss of patients due to having anything and everything at our fingertips has created a perfect formula for addictive tendencies and poor impulse control. The inability to control impulses leads to short term pleasure and reduces the ability to reach your highest potential.

Now I am not telling you to go live under a rock far away from this fast passed society, but you can learn how to delay results. Practice mindfulness and self-reflection daily. Whether it be a morning meditation or mindfully eat one meal a day, do something where you are completely present at the moment with no distractions.  

When you do give in to instant gratification for something, spend time reflecting on how it made you feel and whether you want to make decisions that way in the future.  

2. Delayed gratification is more rewarding.

You may have heard the age-old marshmallow experiment, which revealed a connection to delayed gratification and life success. Children were sat in a room with a single marshmallow on a plate and were told they could eat it now, or wait 15 minutes to receive two marshmallows. The study found that the children who waited had better overall health, and scored higher on standardized tests later in life.

Think about it, the best things that have ever happened to you were likely things that you worked for, that emotionally tried you and physically taxed you. When you finally received the reward, all of the struggles were well worth it.  

It doesn’t stop there, recent studies have discovered the marshmallow test more accurate when you add in a reliability factor. What this reveals is, when you live in an environment where you have more trust and reliability with your surroundings you are more likely to feel comfortable delaying your gratification.

Delayed gratification is a skill to be built. Improve your chances by creating a community of trusting people to surround yourself with. Commit to taking small steps every day to instill a sense of trust within yourself.  

If you want to grow a side hustle, commit to working on it every day for one or two hours. Want to lose weight, hold yourself accountable to exercise 30 minutes a day. If you do this consistently, you will increase your ability to delay gratification and enjoy the reward so much more.  

Trust me, I built my business and put blood, sweat and tears into making it a success and it was well worth the wait.

3. Slowly built success is trusted and sustainable.

Entitlement won’t bring you long term success, and it won’t get you clients or business that trusts you. Think about it, would you rather seek advice from someone who has years of experience in their industry or someone with a flashy website who “got rich quick”?

Hard work is not overrated, and it is what will actually bring you genuine success.

If you do somehow find sudden success, say a video goes viral or a single Facebook ad hits it big and brings you hundreds of customers, ask yourself if you would be ready to sustain that level of growth.  

Having a strong business foundation and the infostructure to support your product or services is going to be required. It is better to dedicate the time and resources to establish yourself as you prepare for growth. The last thing you want is to have a sudden influx in demand and no means to provide.  

The next time you are scrolling through social media to combat boredom, don’t confuse looking successful with being successful. Looks can be deceiving, it only takes $500 to look like a millionaire. And realize this, the successful people you do see are the ones willing to put in the work and build their delayed gratification skills.  

I know you can do it, fight the urge to give in to instant pleasure and seek a greater sense of fulfillment. It will be well worth it.

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  • I'm a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you're excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Media, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.