The Role of Delayed Gratification in Building Resilience and Grit

CoachHub · 24 March 2023 · 7 min read

The ability to restrict yourself and delay pleasure plays a big role in a person’s ability to reach a more satisfying goal. Sometimes, the difference between failure and success is dependent on your ability to self-regulate.

In our world today, there are conflicting opinions as to whether it is more beneficial to delay one’s pleasure for a future goal, or to give in to one’s impulses immediately they are felt. Several studies have been conducted into the efficacy of self regulation and delayed gratification. Both terms are often used interchangeably with self regulation being the umbrella category.

Delayed gratification refers to a person’s ability to restrict themselves from an impulse that could lead to the acquisition of an immediate impulse in order to get a better reward much later.

It feels nice to be able to get something you want right when you want it. However, getting things that make you feel okay in the moment or help you avoid inconveniences may not always be the best.

Some of our long term goals can only be gotten through delayed gratification. While restricting yourself may be a bit uncomfortable at the moment, the long term reward is often worth it, not to mention that it helps you build resilience and grit.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the advantages of delayed gratification and how it can help individuals improve productivity and build resilience.

delayed gratification

Delayed Gratification and Resilience

Resilience is the ability to adapt to a new situation or a difficult life experience through mental and emotional adjustments that make it easier to cope.

Sometimes, we make plans for our lives, both short term and long term, but they don’t always work out the way we want them too. Resilience is the quality that makes it possible for us to adjust to the new circumstances.

Resilience is an important trait for any person to have, especially because we live in a world where we don’t have complete control over the things that happen. Without resilience, it would be difficult to handle disappointments or come up with healthy coping mechanisms.

Like most traits, resilience needs to be practised. Nobody is born immune to disappointments. It is a quality that we need to work on and develop as we grow.

Delayed gratification is one of those practises that make it possible for people to become more resilient. Restricting yourself from temporary pleasures builds your ability to withstand uncomfortable situations. By practising delayed gratification, you become more equipped to deal with undesirable circumstances when they occur.

An example of how resilience can be developed through delayed gratification is through financial discipline. Thanks to the internet, it has become easy to gain access to a wide range of products. This makes it difficult for many people to save or invest. The possibility of satisfying a financial want immediately it occurs is a factor that causes many people to develop poor financial management skills. Through delayed gratification, a person could develop money management skills. In time, it becomes easier to resist temptations that could lead to poor financial decisions.

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Delayed Gratification and Grit

In many situations, grit is the one thing that keeps people going in spite of disappointments. Sometimes, grit plays a bigger role in success than a person’s abilities or intelligence.

Grit is a personality trait that enables a person to go after their goals and persevere despite setbacks that they may face along the way. Grit is the quality that makes a person keep moving forward even when there are opportunities to let go or give up.

For some people, the ability to persevere is an inborn trait while for others, it can be developed. One of the ways of developing grit is through delayed gratification.

Delayed gratification works based on the principle of denying yourself immediate wants or pleasures in order to work towards a future goal. The more you practise delayed gratification, the more you develop your ability to resist setbacks that would ordinarily hold you down. This means your focus becomes stronger and you acquire more discipline.

Let’s say you’re trying to go to the gym more often and you’re supposed to follow a specific set of exercises in order to achieve your desired goal, you’d need a level of grit to keep going day after day. It may appear easier to skip a few days when you’re not supposed to, but through delayed gratification, you make yourself stronger. This increases your level of grit and resilience, while ensuring that you achieve your goal.


The Benefits of Delayed Gratification in the Workplace

Delayed gratification has a lot of advantages in a person’s life. It can greatly impact one’s attitude in the workplace, as well as your ability to move forward in your career.

A. Increased productivity

Through delayed gratification, workers develop the ability to stay focused on both their goals and the organisation’s goals by eliminating distractions that could waste time. This way, the productivity of the employee is greatly improved in the long run.

B. Improved decision-making

By practising delayed gratification, it becomes easier to prioritise and make better choices in the workplace. Workers become more capable of differentiating between tasks in order to sort out those that would be more beneficial to their goals. This way, the workplace can develop a stellar decision making culture.

C. Higher job satisfaction

When a person has clear goals that they can work towards in the workplace, the probability of developing higher levels of job satisfaction increases. One of the best ways of doing this is through delayed gratification. By setting clear goals, workers can stay focused and work towards the actualization of their goals and ambitions in their careers.

D. Reduced stress levels

Being able to make beneficial decisions greatly reduces stress, especially because delayed gratification, resilience and grit help a person to stay on the path to their goals. This makes it easier for employees to prioritise. In this way, distractions that would otherwise cause distress are eliminated.


How Managers Can Foster Delayed Gratification in Their Teams

While it is important for individuals to develop skills on their own, managers have a role to play in ensuring that workers stay on the right path towards personal growth and development.

A. Setting long-term goals

When leaders and managers can set clear goals, employees have something concrete to work towards. This makes it easy for them to make better decisions that will reflect in the way they approach work-related responsibilities. It would be difficult for employees to make productive decisions when there are no concrete company goals.

B. Encouraging self-discipline

Part of the responsibilities of a manager is to lead by example. One of the best qualities of a leader is the ability to encourage employees and team members. Managers need to encourage self discipline by practising it. It becomes easy for employees to follow suit when there is a clear, respectable example.

C. Developing motivation

Managers need to be more actively involved in the activities of employees and team members. To do this, they need to regularly encourage workers and provide constructive feedback. This serves as a form of motivation to workers that will make them more committed to their responsibilities and goals.

D. Providing resources for goal-setting

Managers and team leaders can improve resilience among workers by providing them with resources that make it easier to make better decisions and set realistic goals.

E. Providing examples of delayed gratification in the workplace

In the workplace, managers and team leaders can provide practical examples of delayed gratification that can serve as a point of reference for workers who are trying to develop such traits.

Tips for Building Delayed Gratification Skills

It is not easy to develop any skill. It takes time, commitment and attention to detail. It also takes a level of self awareness to realise that you need to work on certain traits. The encouraging thing is that it is not impossible to develop any trait as long as you set your mind to it.

This is one of the guiding principles of grit, resilience and delayed gratification. You may not get the results you want immediately or develop a stronger will overnight, hence, you need to be patient and take it one step at a time.

Delayed gratification can be applied to almost any aspect of our lives. With practise, it can become a trait that influences both small and large decisions in our lives.

Even though it is not easy to develop a strong will overnight, there are a few tips that can make the process easier;

  • Practise mindfulness
  • Break bad habits
  • Celebrate small victories
  • Use positive self-talk
  • Create a supportive environment



It is important for all individuals to exercise a level of discipline while trying to satisfy wants. Delayed gratification does not apply to only the big decisions in our lives. It can affect our everyday decisions. Through constant practise of delayed gratification, individuals can develop grit and resilience that makes it easier for them to respond to setbacks in a healthy manner.

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Samuel Olawole
Samuel Olawole is a freelance copywriter and content writer who specialises in creating exciting content across a wide range of topics and industries. When he’s not writing, you can find him travelling or listening to good music.

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