Home > The Master Plan > Motivated by long term gratification

Motivated by long term gratification

Hot Chocolate 15K

So today I ran an extremely well organized race called the Hot Chocolate 15K (you get a bunch of chocolate at the end).  It was a great course through downtown Chicago and the weather was 38 degrees and sunny (perfect!).  I enjoy  running long distances because I get a long while alone with my thoughts.  So I got to thinking about my motivation and the motivation of the 40,000 folks around me.  I don’t think I’m motivated by the same things as other people…

Why I run

I’ve thought about this often on my longer runs.  When I first started running, it was mostly because I wanted to achieve something challenging.  I never compared myself to others, I just loved the fact that I could keep hitting personal bests.   Consistently getting better at a particular skill is rather motivating.

So for a long while I ran as a challenge, to see if I could beat my previous marathon time.  Then I got sick… really sick.  I was unable to run for over a year.  My motivation totally changed.  I suddenly viewed running as a way to prove to myself that I was healthy again.  It became intensely personal, and I viewed it as Rocky V the Russian, David V Goliath, Me V the World.

So running has become something I HAVE to do.  I’m willing to endure any short term discomfort to accomplish my long term goals.

Other People’s Motivations

So the weird thing about this chocolate race I ran was everyone’s motivation.  I heard from the announcers, from my friends, and from the crowd that they were all motivated by the chocolate fondue at the finish line.  They obviously weren’t running the race just for chocolate, but it was certainly a motivating factor.

To me, immediate gratification (like chocolate) isn’t all that valuable.  I tend to only focus on long terms results when running (like completing the Chicago Marathon next October).  The chocolate didn’t even enter into my equation.  It got me thinking about how other people view their finances differently than I do.

Financial Impact

When I go out to eat with friends, or decide between a taxi and walking, I am always thinking about how short term decisions will impact my long term quest for financial independence.  Saving $10 and getting a little exercise is always preferable to me because I tend to take the long term view of things.

A lot of other people I know really are motivated by immediate gratification.  I suppose that’s why $100 signing bonuses for credit cards are so successful at luring people into debt.  When I see that, I like the $100 bonus, but what I like more is the 1% cash back on all credit card purchases I make going forward (Hint: NPV > $100).

Smell the Roses

Experiences like this chocolate run teach me a lot about the motivations of normal Americans, and how odd I am.  I’ve learned that long term success is still my top priority, but there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some immediate gratification (chocolate fondue!) along the way.

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