The Marshmallow Test

The Marshmallow Experiment was conducted in the 1960s by Walther Mischel at Stanford University. It was popularized by Daniel Goleman, perhaps best known for his books Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence.

The test
The researchers gathered a group of four-year olds in a room. A researcher set a marshmallow in front of each kid. The kids were told that the researcher needed to run an errand. If the kid didn’t eat the marshmallow before the researcher got back, the kid would be given a second marshmallow. However, if the kid ate the marshmallow, he or she would not get another one.

Picture yourself at four-years old.
Could you have resisted that tasty marshmallow?

Some ate their marshmallow before the researcher even got out of the room! Others seem to have no problem not resisting the temptation. Some turned their back on the marshmallow. Others sang a song or distracted themselves in other ways. One kid reportedly even licked the table around the marshmallow!

The reward for waiting was pretty good – a 100 percent increase in marshmallows! Interestingly enough, ALL the kids expected a second marshmallow – even the kids who ate theirs!

The follow-up
The researchers tracked these kids in the subsequent years. They surveyed their parents and their teachers. They found that, in general, the kids who had been able to resist the marshmallows were better adjusted and more dependable.

They were more competent socially and more self-assertive. They were able to cope with frustration and stress much better. They embraced challenges rather than seeing them as a huge obstacle. They also scored 210 points higher on their SAT exams.

So what’s your marshmallow?
We’ve all heard about rock-n-rollers who came to fame and fortune early. They make a lot of money; then blow it all. They think it will always be there.

Some time later, we hear they’re out touring again, because they’re out of money. They have to start over because they don’t have any marshmallows left. Obviously we’re stereotyping rock-n-rollers … they haven’t all fallen into this trap.

Here’s the ironic thing — by resisting that treat now, you can have more later! Here are some thoughts to help you get the most marshmallows.

#1 – Keep your eye on the final prize.
Focus on what you ultimately want, not your marshmallows. What’s your dream life? Keep that in front of you. You’ll resist the marshmallows now so you get more later.

#2 – Find techniques that work for you.
Just like with the kids, we each need to find what works best for us. For example, you may find that paying yourself first helps you resist your marshmallows. Many people have found that as long as they don’t see the money, they don’t miss it.

Other people won’t buy anything unless they have the cash to pay for it. This simple requirement helps them resist many marshmallows.

Mary-Lynn shared her technique – she focuses on her needs, rather than her wants. She’s ready for a new smart phone. She wants an iPhone, but she’ll get a phone that’s a couple of hundred dollars less. It suits her needs just fine.

 

How do you resist the marshmallows in your life? Leave us a comment.

#3 – Reward yourself when you reach a desired goal.
A couple of days ago, we talked about The Stairway To Success. We discussed the steps that will get you to the top of your stairway. When you reach a desired goal – reward yourself.

Don’t overdo it – you do want to enjoy a marshmallow now and then … just don’t get so full that you can’t make it up the stairs!

 

Get our FREE Bigg Goal-Setters Workbook.

It’s a great tool to help you set your marshmallow marks – those points where you give yourself a treat! Just sign up for the Bigg Success Weekly newsletter – It’s FREE, too!

Our Bigg Quote today is by the great Brian Tracy:

“The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification
in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the
long term is the indispensable pre-requisite for success.”

So plan your life and live your plan …. and go ahead, have a marshmallow now and then!

Next time, we’ll answer a question from one of our listeners who wants to know if he should count on his employer’s counter offer.

In the meantime, we’re off for a cup of hot chocolate … topped with marshmallows, of course! Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Related Posts:

 Back To The Future: Visualize The Life You Want (Part 2)

The Stairway To Success

6 replies
  1. David
    David says:

    My weakness is new gadgets (i.e the Air-Mac!). I force myself to wait 3 months when I decide I want to buy something. That worked great with the iPhone!

    Reply
  2. Pavel
    Pavel says:

    To resist the marshmallow I make sure to put another, slightly less desirable treat right next to it. Then, when I can’t wait any more, I eat the 2nd best treat — achieving the most important goal of resisting the marshmallow.

    This reminds me of college when I would make sure to sign up for 18 hours of classes before every semester. Then, when I dropped a class the first week, it made me feel really good because I’d have “so much more free time,” even though I never planned on taking 18 hours to begin with.

    Reply
  3. Trish
    Trish says:

    I just want you to know that not only did I eat my marshmallow, but I grabbed the ones that were left sitting on the table!!

    Keep up the good work

    Reply

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