I was going to do another strategy piece this morning, in keeping with the time for planning theme I’d thought I was doing for this week. But no. We can do business strategy next year. Instead, for this last work day of this long and less-than-stellar year, let’s please enjoy, now, this excellent new research about the psychology of putting off enjoyment.
I’ve said it several times on this blog, usually in the context of work-life balance: time is the scarcest resource. This research looks into that tendency we all have to save the miles, or the gift certificates, or the vacation days, or the best wine, in “a widespread form of procrastination” that’s about putting off the good times, not the bad. “The strange impulse to put off until tomorrow what could be enjoyed today.”
And here we have this NYTimes.com piece on new research that confirms it. Author John Tierney starts it with this intriguing lead:
For once, social scientists have discovered a flaw in the human psyche that will not be tedious to correct. You may not even need a support group. You could try on your own by starting with this simple New Year’s resolution: Have fun … now!
The core of it is this:
… we’re not accurate in our estimates of “resource slack,” as it is termed by Gal Zauberman and John G. Lynch. These behavioral economists found that when people were asked to anticipate how much extra money and time they would have in the future, they realistically assumed that money would be tight, but they expected free time to magically materialize.
Hence you’re more likely to agree to a commitment next year, like giving a speech, that you would turn down if asked to find time for it in the next month. This produces what researchers call the “Yes … Damn!” effect: when the speech comes due next year, you bitterly discover you’re still as busy as ever.
So enjoy the holiday. Have a Happy New Year.