In our always-on, social-media driven society, we all crave instant gratification. Dare I say, more than anytime in history.
- When we post that status update on Facebook, we want to see a bunch of likes right away.
- When we share a new photo of the awesome place where we are at on Instagram, we want to see a bunch of hearts.
- When we jump on Periscope, we want there to be a large audience on the other side.
- When we add a snap to our story on Snapchat, we want to see a bunch of views.
It feels good. It’s validating to know that there are other people who are paying attention to us. Isn’t that really the core of humanity? We want to feel unconditional love and acceptance (if it’s from just one person, a dozen or several thousand).
With social media, it’s instant gratification (or so we think!) for the things that we crave the most in life. I’m not railing on social media. (Heck, I wouldn’t even have my career or many of my IRL friends if it wasn’t for social media). However, it is a problem when this need for instant gratification affects our professional and personal growth outlook and opportunities.
These short term wins on social media feed our ego. It can make even the most selfless person a little narcissistic. We all fall into this trap (even if we will never admit it) when we start comparing ourselves to our friends.
- We see one friend share a photo of their brand new house.
- Another friend share a photo of the awesome new BMW.
- Another friend get a big raise at their job.
- And, the list goes on and on.
The comparison trap can create this need for more and more instant gratification. We see a friend advancing quicker than us and suddenly we get this sense of urgency to try and catch up. It’s human. All of us do it. I know I have. This quote from Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book, resonates with me so much.
“Don’t rush anything. Map your life and make sure this is going to get you where you want to be. And stay open to serendipity. You never know what can happen before that one idea comes to fruition.”
When you start rushing and trying to catch up with with where your friends are, you start going down a really slippery path where you only chase the short term wins and completely lose sight of where you actually want to go and all the bigger goals you wanted to accomplish. I’m not sure about you but that’s my single, greatest fear. My biggest fear is that I’m going to wake up 20, 30, or 40 years from now wondering what the hell I have been doing all these years.
And I would be making this sacrifice all because I was comparing my life at this moment to someone’s else highlight reel. It’s impossible to know the full CONTEXT.
“People are rewarded in public for what they practice intensely and continuously in private.” — Tony Robbins
For example, I may never know the full story behind the BMW photo on my Instagram feed. My “friend” who posted the photo of their shiny new BMW could have been working 80+ hour work weeks for years to get this point. Or, they could just be renting it for a week on vacation or maxed out a credit card to buy it. You don’t know the full story behind that quick highlight. CONTEXT is EVERYTHING.
If we get stuck in this spiral chasing more and more quick wins at the expense of everything else for too long, before we know it, we wind up hitting our ceiling where we might make decent money but to quote, Taylor Pearson, we’re essentially a “turkey” at Thanksgiving. We’ve taken all these shortcuts and as a result stopped growing and learning new things. Any new skills we might pick up tend to be non-transferable company-specific ones that are more in line with how to write reports for that one boss or how to successfully navigate office politics.
It’s short-sighted to chase fancy monetary possessions (like a luxury car), raises and fancy titles (to keep up with our friends) when it comes at the expense of knowledge, experiences, mentorship and accomplishing really long-term goals.
To quote Gary Vaynerchuk again:
“If you want to succeed, you’ve got to surround yourself with the right kind of people. Go where you are motivated to take risks. Be with people who allow you to make your best work. Your DNA matters, but make sure your circumstances are allowing you to win.”
I get it. We all need to make money to live. Chasing more money to buy fancy material possessions in the short term may bring instant gratification – just like chasing more likes and Snapchat story views- but it’s usually a recipe for long-term unhappiness and regret. And, regret is the biggest poison of them all.
After all, the things that really matter aren’t the number of likes on your Facebook post, how many views your Snapchat story got, the fancy new job title or even how much money you make. Instead, it’s about relationships, making a difference and actively creating a legacy that you can be proud of.