Where will you be ten years from now and what would you be doing? Driving a Maserati, living in a farmhouse, heading a company of 100, be a parent to two kids and a cat, retired and growing your own veggies? Not very long ago, this was a favourite question at job interviews. It is required of us to share what our tomorrow would be like? The timeline for us to achieve the results would vary between five to ten years. Enough, we’d think to ourselves. We would lay down long-term goals and work keenly towards realising them. We allowed ourselves to deviate and take breaks too. We had enough time to change our plans or act lazy. We’d share our plans of making it as a CEO or an RJ, writing a book or turning into a filmmaker, owning a house or learning how to ride a horse. We weren’t in a hurry. Nobody was. We had the patience to work hard and achieve. Or not.
Then things began to change. The instant bug bit us. We wanted results now and we knew there was a way around that. Videos on tummy tuck-in exercises popped up, with promises of a flat stomach in a week. Telly commercials suggested hair loss can be taken care off in mere three hair washes. Detox became a matter of seven glasses of juice. An app allowed us to master a new language in five classes. We could be certified experts on almost any subject, within hours. Suddenly, everything was within our reach. We didn’t have to wait to hear from a loved one, two blue tick marks indicated the exchange.
We began to seek instant gratification.
And it went beyond pizza delivery in 30 minutes. Talk today and our goals and dreams are defined by hashtags like #dailygoals, #dailystyle, #dailyinspo, et al. New Year Resolutions have become passé. We change shoes and hairstyle, every season. We earn instant air miles when we travel. We receive automated confirmations when we place an order for a book or a burger. We garner fame through a video gone viral. The shift from a nobody to a celebrity can occur in a blink.
We want things now, then any later.
We are impatient and over-demanding. We are achievers too.
Fleeting pleasures, rewards, promotions and results is our answer to the good ol’ question. Some may argue, we’ve learnt how to live in the present. Dig deeper and this new behaviour may suggest we’re not planning or saving for a future. We’re risk-takers. We’ve adapted to the instant life and are doing a pretty darn job at it. As Paul Roberts writes in his book, The Impulse Society, “our entire consumer culture has elevated immediate gratification to life’s primary goal.”
But, at times, it does make one wonder if there was ever any wisdom in the cliché — the fruit of patience. Or the words of elders, who asked us to work hard and avoid short-cuts. How much does our inability to wait define us? The gifts of spontaneity are at our disposal — a film on Netflix, a book on Kindle, and a virtual hug on social media — we’d miss the race if we don’t embrace it.
Are we ruining long-standing virtues or are we just making the most of current times — a question that we should be asked to answer now, then any later.