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Marshmallows and Delusions of Grandeur

Marshmallows and Delusions of Grandeur

As a kid, I loved marshmallows.

The way they turn golden brown over an open flame. Their powdery mouthfeel and sugary taste. And not to mention their effortless ability to perfectly smoosh together on top of a melted peanut butter cup (that’s right—even as a kid, my s’mores game was strong).

Unfortunately, these puffy treats were ruined for me thanks to the marshmallow experiment.

If you aren’t familiar with this series of studies from the late 60’s and early 70’s, a Stanford psychology professor gave children the choice between receiving one marshmallow immediately or two after waiting 15 minutes. After following up, the researchers found that the children who were able to wait longer for the two marshmallows tended to have better life outcomes, such as higher SAT scores and more success in the workplace.

The moment I learned about this study, I knew I was doomed.

I have been the give-me-one-marshmallow-now type of person my entire life.

Add my stubbornness to this, and it’s one killer cocktail for frustration.

Except there’s a catch—you would think this would carry over into my professional life. But somehow, it doesn’t.

I’ve never had a full-time job.

For most of my adult life, I’ve delayed gratification by working for myself.

This means passing on immediate financial stability in hopes that everything will eventually pay off tenfold in the future.

I know, this sounds crazy. After all, we millennials should be saving for the future instead of wasting our money on things like avocado toast and finding “meaning.”

I value my time more than anything else in this world—mainly because it’s the only thing I will never get back. If you stop and think about it, time is essentially our most valuable, nonrenewable resource.

You might think I’m being dramatic, but it’s true.

If you have a marketable skill, you can always make more money. As tough as it is, you can always build new relationships.

But unless time machines are real, we will never be able to get back the time we spend.

That’s why, when I think about the future, I can’t help but think big.

Not just an “I want to be famous,” kind of big—I’m talking about delusions of grandeur with a positive twist.

From helping others pursue their ideas to sharing my own through books and speaking gigs, nothing is out of bounds in my mind. As long as it involves creating my own path, I’m 100% in.

As you can probably guess, this isn’t the easiest way to approach things, especially when you first stumble into the real world. We’re told to find a job, be patient, and eventually retire.

Honestly, this sounds like my very own personal hell.

In my mind, we all have ideas, projects, and missions we want to pursue throughout our lives. Why limit ourselves to one experience?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am fully aware that my gamble may not pay off in the future. I very well could be shooting myself in the foot.

You know what?

I’m okay with that. I would rather live a full life and take chances than play it safe and do things “the way they’ve always been done.”

Maybe it’s just the rebel in me, but I want to prove those researchers wrong.

I want to be the kid who, against all odds, took one marshmallow and went on to make a difference. I want to show others that, just because they don’t have the discipline as a kid doesn’t mean they can’t find it as an adult.

At the end of the day, the only person I need to prove right is myself.

Now excuse me. All this talk about marshmallows is making me hungry…

Are you a one-marshmallow type of person? How has it affected your career?

This post reflects the views and experiences of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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William is a freelance designer, writer, and founder of Collide, a company that is creating a better, deeper way to connect with others over shared ideas and skills. He is passionate about turning ideas into action and helping others do the same. When not working, William leads a double life as a beatboxer in One Too Many, St. Louis' premiere all-male a cappella group.

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