Instant Gratification vs. Delayed Gratification: A Tale of Two Investments

Imagine you're about to buy a house. You put down a down payment, and the bank loans you the rest. You agree to repay this loan over the next 20 years. When you total up the repayment, it's a lot more than the original loan amount, but that's how loans and interest work. You're okay with it because you get the house today, which you couldn't afford to pay for in full. This is instant gratification: for a small percentage of the price, you get the house immediately. From then on, you're committed to making monthly payments for many years—a clear, non-negotiable agreement.

Brick townhouse
Photo by Terrah Holly / Unsplash

The Daily Grind: Working to Pay Off Your Home

To make these monthly payments, you go to work, clocking in 40-hour (or sometimes 70-hour) weeks, and dedicate a portion of your earnings to your home loan. For the next 20 years, this is the drill. You can't skip work or miss a monthly payment. It's a daily, weekly, and monthly effort with no shortcuts.

Parallel Paths: Investing in Your Health

Now, let's contrast this with your health.

To stay healthy and have a youthful body and mind 20 years from now, there are many similarities. You need to make a consistent effort daily, weekly, and monthly. Unlike the house, you don't need to make a full payment upfront or even a down payment. If you invest in your health consistently over the next 20 years, you'll have the body of your dreams.

The Key Difference: Instant vs. Delayed Gratification

Here's where the difference lies: With the house, you get instant gratification. You get the house immediately.

With your body, gratification is delayed. You see the results as you do the work, building your health brick by brick.

Savannah, Georgia is almost the most perfect city in America for rich, old textures, bricks especially.
Photo by Mick Haupt / Unsplash

Consistent Effort: The Path to Success

In both scenarios, you commit to a long-term effort. For the home, you pay interest. For the body, there's no interest—in fact, it gets easier. As you put in the effort early on, your body works better, and it costs less to maintain and improve it. As your habits change, it becomes easier to continue the effort.

The Power of Small, Consistent Actions: An Anecdote

Yet, the home scenario makes sense to us, while the body scenario often does not.

Let's illustrate this with an anecdote:

Morgan Housel, in his book "The Psychology of Money," shares a story about a janitor named Ronald Read. Ronald lived a simple life, driving an old car and wearing flannel shirts. He worked diligently, saved consistently, and invested wisely. By the time he passed away, he had amassed an $8 million fortune, which he left to his local library and hospital. Ronald's wealth wasn't built on a single big investment but through decades of small, consistent efforts. Just like Ronald’s financial habits, your health can be built up through small, consistent actions over time.

The Truth About Aging: It's Up to You

Don’t buy into the lie that ageing means living in a deteriorating body. Ageing is inevitable; having an unhealthy, incapacitated body is not.

Taking Action: Start Today

Do the work. Brick by brick. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Put in the effort.

Just as a part of your monthly income goes towards your home loan, a part of your day should go towards your long-term health. Go to the gym, eat vegetables and protein, and sleep 7+ hours.

Your True Home

Your true home is your mind and body. Invest in it.

Start today.