UPDATE on Delaying Gratification and Valuing the Future

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In my July 7th, 2014, post entitled QUICK LOOK: Time alone? Many would rather hurt themselves, I mentioned that when the future is discounted and not valued, it is hard to engage in such activities as planning for retirement. Well, the following article goes into all of this in detail:

Retirement Saving Makes One Wealthy, Healthy

The above article takes the valuing the future – retirement planning connection a step further and argues that if you value the future, typically you will also value your health. When you think about it, this makes intuitive sense. Why would you take care of yourself if you did not see yourself in the future? As I have pointed out before, valuing the future is one of the EF (executive function) skills. So, it would appear that there is an EF – retirement planning – health continuum if you will.

To end on a decidedly sad note, let me tell you a little about my time working with troubled teens as a psychotherapist back in the 1990s. In group therapy I would often ask teens, “How do you see yourself in the future?” More times than not the answer I received back was “dead.” I remember being shocked that these troubled teens could not see themselves in the future, not even the near future. That’s why today I am shocked that people—even people of my Baby Boom generation—are not able to delay gratification for fifteen minutes (see my July 7th post). I am shocked at how little value is being put on the future. Maybe this in part explains why so many have so little in retirement accounts.