Did you eat your marshmallow?

Winning with money is more about behavior than knowledge.

Plenty of very smart high earners do a poor job of building wealth. I know, because I was one of them. They typically out-earn their “stupid” behavior right up until they hit one of life’s speed bumps. I was lucky and got my wake-up call before wiping out.

If you’re not winning, it’s not because you lack intelligence. If you’ve tried to work a plan in the past and have been unsuccessful it could be you’re lacking some self-control. To fix that all we need is a bag of marshmallows.

Oh, The Temptation from Steve V on Vimeo.

In the 1960’s Walter Mischel conducted an experiment to measure the self-control of preschoolers. The kids were given one marshmallow and were told they could eat the one marshmallow now or if they could wait they would be given a second marshmallow. Turns out those who waited were, in later years, more dependable, better adjusted and scored higher on their SATs.

The cool thing that is rarely mentioned about the marshmallow study is that Mischel, in later studies, was able to teach the kids some simple mental tricks that dramatically increased their self-control when measured by the candy test. Mischel found that the kids that stared at the marshmallow could not resist, but those that looked away, sang songs and distracted themselves could. One successful trick Mischel asked the kids to try was to pretend that the temptation was only a picture. When they kids employed this trick they could wait 15 minutes.

Mischel says. “Once you realize that will power is just a matter of learning how to control your attention and thoughts, you can really begin to increase it.”

So this means if you have car fever stay out of the showrooms, you shoe collectors stay out of the shoe store, unless you selling stuff stay away from ebay.

You don’t need an iron will. You just need to focus your attention and thoughts on something other than your temptation.

Do you want one marshmallow or two?

Click to read more about Mischel The Secret of Self-Control.