Taming your Instant Gratification Monkey

Jim Reali (Careers Advisor, College of LES)

Recently, I watched a great 15 minute video entitled “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator”, by a blogger called Tim Urban.

In the video, Tim tells his audience how he has always given in to the “instant gratification monkey”, which has distracted him from being a “rational decision maker” and so he hasn’t made the most of his time to do the things he knows he should do – such as working on his university dissertation.

Tim’s instant gratification monkey has often led him into situations where he’d spend hours on the Internet, browsing random YouTube videos and taking interest in things which were of no relevance to what he needed to accomplish.

He goes on to identify that in the brains of each and every one of us there is a similar monkey, but that some people are able to keep it under better control than others and that for some, the “panic monster” is what eventually forces them to focus on what needs to be done.


The Panic Monster versus The Instant Gratification Monkey versus You!

Watching the video, I thought immediately of some of the recent University of Birmingham graduates with whom I have spoken, who have now completed their higher education, but haven’t found employment. There was a common theme running through several of our conversations, which was that, whilst they were students, they knew it was important to think about their careers and to plan ahead, but that they didn’t do it. The reasons they cited varied –some people said that they couldn’t be bothered, some said that there were too many other things to focus on, whilst others said that they had not wanted to get a graduate career after leaving university, so didn’t think that they needed to bother planning ahead.

…and then they graduated and they realised that they had no career…

Maybe they had been giving-in a little to their instant gratification monkeys during the time they were at university? Career planning may not always seem the most attractive use of your time when it’s pitted against options such as going out with friends, playing sports, having a cup of tea or watching Eastenders. However, now and again it can be helpful to recognise that whenever you put off career planning and do these other things, the clock doesn’t stop ticking. The time until you graduate still keeps getting shorter. The number of people against whom you may be competing for a graduate job is increasing. Perhaps those things might cause your panic monster to rear its head?

Planning for your career doesn’t have to take every minute of every day – just a little time on a regular basis. There are some simple steps you can undertake, whatever stage of your studies you’re in and the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to keep your instant gratification monkey in check and show it who’s boss!

If you’d like to find out more about career planning, there are a few simple actions you could undertake:

Then again, if don’t really don’t fancy career planning yet and want to feed your monkey, here’s the link for YouTube


About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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