Why Instant Gratification Actually Sucks

To grow, we need to focus on "the game."

instant gratification sucks nicoletaionescu / Getty Images via Canva

By Candice Zhang

Have you ever heard stories of people’s posts going viral on Instagram or TikTok? Because of social media, we’re all wondering when this moment will happen to us.

We’re waiting for our posts to go viral and feel like we’ve accomplished something. We want it to happen quickly, perhaps in a minute.

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The concept of instant gratification is now ever-present in our daily lives. We sometimes don’t want to cook because it simply takes too long. Hence, we opt for easier recipes that take less time. We rush to complete a task. But then, we’re not finishing it to the best of our abilities.

We all feel the need to rush to accomplish something. We believe that the quicker we achieve our goals, the more successful we become.

But even if we achieve something on our first try, we forget about one crucial concept to success: the process.

When it comes to success, we are too focused on the outcomes. We want good results to the point where we refuse to take any risks or learn from our mistakes. We all want to be right on the first try. And if we don’t get it on the first try, we perceive ourselves as failures.


This mindset not only limits us and forces us to stay in our comfort zone but also makes us forget to see the bigger picture.

There are tons of lessons to learn from each mistake. Some of these lessons were out of our control, but they did toughen us up. By seeking instant gratification, we miss these lessons.

For example, let’s say that you expected to gain a few hundred subscribers for your new YouTube channel. However, as soon as you posted the first video, you noticed you haven’t gained a subscriber for over a week. Therefore, you begin to perceive your video as a failure and decide that, perhaps, posting videos on YouTube isn’t your forte.

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When we just focus on gaining subscribers, we’re digging ourselves in a hole. We forget about multiple factors, including the timing and topic of the video, the internet trends, and the audience. We see the video as a failure because no one subscribed after watching it.

But if we stop perceiving this situation from a perspective of instant gratification, we’ll begin to acknowledge these factors. We’ll then notice the viewer statistics and see which factors affect them. Moreover, we’ll begin to see which content our viewers like on our YouTube channel.

Even if our video fulfills our goals on our first attempt, we are still blinded by instant gratification. Then, we will be way too focused on what we achieved.

We won’t acknowledge the process we went through to make the content, and we won’t give ourselves a pat on the back for what we did.


So, instant gratification only makes us focus on the "wins" and the "losses" instead of ‘the game.’

To grow, we need to focus on "the game." We need to know which mistakes we made and how to rectify them. We need to know how we can work towards our goals given our current circumstances.

So to those on and off social media: don’t let instant gratification fool you into false motivation. Instead, focus on the process.


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Candice Zhang is a writer and frequent contributor to Unwritten whose bylines have been featured on Her Campus, The Strand, and others. She writes primarily about health and wellness, relationships, and current events.