Marshmallows

Tiffany Farber is a solo practitioner who has been practicing law since 2008. As someone who has been through transition in her career, she understands the challenges lawyers in this situation face.

Recently, a friend of mine sent me a video that illustrated patience, or the lack thereof, perfectly.   Besides being wildly adorable, the video portrayed an experiment performed on children in the 1960s to test delayed gratification.  The children were told that they could eat a giant marshmallow immediately, or they could wait a little bit and have two later.  The kids were left alone in a room for about 15 minutes to ponder how badly they wanted the marshmallows.  Most of the kids in the video waited, very impatiently, for the promise of the second marshmallow.   A couple of the kids said, “screw this” and stuffed the giant pillows of sugar into their mouths.

For some frame of reference, here is the video:  http://www.eatmedaily.com/2009/09/psychological-experiments-in-self-control-the-marshmallow-test/

The most interesting thing about the test was the follow-up.  The tester, years later, discovered that the kids who were able to delay gratification had a higher incidence of success in their lives.  The kids who just had to eat the marshmallow right away tended to be more scattered during their adult lives.

I think the marshmallow test is a good analogy for job searching.  If presented with a job now, some of us will take it.  Even if we know there would be better job offers, or perhaps several job offers, in our futures, we will likely just eat our marshmallows now.  In the world we live in today, instant gratification is the mantra for many of us.  Thanks to smartphones, we can have anything we want immediately, but I think there is something to be said about patience.

Waiting for the job we really want can be more beneficial than taking the job that comes along in the moment.

I know several people who waited years for their dream jobs to come along.  One attorney I know really wanted to work as a public defender and, although she took some document review jobs along the way, was finally offered the job she really wanted.  She loves her job.  I’ve heard the same story from other attorneys who waited to score their dream jobs.

I do understand that waiting for a job to come along is not exactly the same thing as waiting 15 minutes to be given a couple of marshmallows.  There is much more at stake for job seekers than there is for a kid with a sweet tooth.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take opportunities that come your way, but if you are really serious about an opportunity that will require some patience, perhaps it’s worth it.

It’s never in your best interest to just wait around until things happen, but the best way to curb the frustration that comes with patience is to take active steps to make your dreams a reality.

To a 4-year-old, hoping for a piece of candy can feel like an eternity.  To a job seeker, the same thing is true for waiting on that perfect job to come along. It’s like Tom Petty said, “The waiting is the hardest part.”  Rest assured that when you hold out for just a little while, the odds are good that something doubly sweet will come your way.

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One response to “Marshmallows

  1. Great Job Tiff. I’m taking your food for thought and I am patiently awaiting three marshmallows!

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