In 1972, a psychologist named Walter Mischel of Stanford University, USA, set out to test self-discipline. He tested over four hundred children to see how long they could resist eating a marshmallow. If the child could resist eating the marshmallow, they were promised two instead of one. The scientists analysed how long each child resisted the temptation of eating the marshmallow, and whether or not doing so could be correlated with future success.

The children, all aged between four and six, were led into a room where a treat of their choice (cookie, marshmallow, or pretzel stick) was placed on a table. The children could eat the marshmallow, the researchers said, but if they waited for fifteen minutes without giving in to the temptation, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.

A 2011 study of the same four hundred participants indicates that the characteristics remain consistent with the person for life. Many of those who didn’t eat the marshmallow went on to become high achievers, whilst many that ate the marshmallow became couch potatoes.

The point here is a life-changing one, should you choose to follow it. Give up a little now, invest your time now in your personal development, and the rewards will come many times over later. Give up an hour of watching the TV each night or playing computer games. Cut down the time you spend on Facebook (if they are real friends they will be delighted you have set yourself some personal goals), or cut down the time you spend on reading novels.

When driving to work, rather than listen to music, run through in your head ideas of how you can improve some area of your work or your health. In other words sacrifice some immediate pleasures and instead invest the time wisely in things that will develop you.

Don’t eat the marshmallows