He looked at the sweet object in front of him. Smooth, tempting. Right there. Nobody was watching him, and yet..
The Marshmallow Test is a very famous psychological experiment about self control and its importance. Once upon a time, a psychologist gave a very simple test to children. They were left alone in a room with a marshmallow, and they had a choice – to eat the marshmallow, or to wait for torturous 15 minutes, at the end of which they would get another.
In short, if you don’t wait, you get one, but if you do wait, you get two. As you might guess, some children made it, the others gave in.
So, what does it mean?
The psychologist then tracked these children over the years – into their lives – health, education and careers, and found that the ones who could control themselves were more successful in all areas. An extremely simple test predicted success in many spheres of life, years after the test.
That got me thinking – would I have passed the Marshmallow Test?
Sometimes I think I would not have, sometimes I think I would. There is no way I can really know. Then I realized the more important question was - Will I pass the Marshmallow Test NOW?
We are faced with the test virtually every day. We oversleep instead of exercising, read fantasy fiction instead of an informative book, overeat instead of a balanced diet. Again, and again.
So why do I mention this experiment on a blog about job-hunting? A lot of time on campus you get swayed by what looks best at the moment in terms of brand/pay package – instead of waiting for the best fit you can find. IIM graduates are infamous for switching jobs soon, and I suspect it is because they gave in to the placement pressure initially. I personally know two people who had great potential for the discipline of Marketing (they had a real knack for understanding those marketing cases), but went into HR or Operations. They are doing well now, but I believe they would have done awesome in a Brand Management role.
In case of a lateral search, more fear can creep in and make you go for the first offer you get, rather than waiting it out for the right one. The only way to keep in control is to understand that going for something immediate can only backfire in the long run.
What do you think? Will you pass The Marshmallow Test?
P.S. More can be found –> here.
That’s the Wikipedia entry, and I suggest you take a minute to think harder about how we make choices and what regulates them, and learn more about the same –> here.