What You Need Is Self-Control
You encounter struggles in many areas of your life. Many times, the battle is not between good and evil but between good, better, and best. Self-control enables you to evaluate and choose the best path to take.
What Is Self-Control?
Imagine your response in the following situations:
- Your goal is to eat less sugar, but fresh cookies just came out of the oven.
- You committed to reading more books this year, but tonight you feel like binge-watching your favorite TV series.
- You are saving money to replace the worn tires on your car, but you just saw a sale on some clothes you’ve wanted to buy.
- You have a term paper to write, but a YouTube channel you subscribe to just posted a new video.
- You just put your phone away until your next break, but then you receive a notification of a new comment on your Instagram post.
Each of these scenarios presents a conflict between an immediate desire and a long-term intention. These are often either-or situations: the possibility of instant gratification clashes with your pursuit of significant though potentially delayed purpose. Self-control is your ability to regulate your short-term desires based on your values and long-term goals.
The Importance of Self-Control
Self-control helps you pursue and accomplish what you really want in life. People with increased self-regulation show heightened achievement in relationships, nutrition, sleep, health, job performance, exercise, learning, personal finances, and overall happiness. You can find greater satisfaction in the things that matter to you rather than settling for something less.
Self-control helps you pursue and accomplish what you really want in life.
When you do what you have committed to do, you will have less regret, guilt, stress, and other negative consequences. Determination helps you inhibit unhealthy urges and avoid harmful behaviors.
How to Improve Your Self-Control
You can better align your daily behavior with your goals and values. Here are a few ways to strengthen your self-discipline:
Clarify Your Motivation
Self-control flows from your motivation to do something over time. If you truly desire your goal, then you should have an appropriate distaste for any intruding desire. The clearer and stronger your motivation, the easier it will be to deny anything that challenges your resolution.
Describe Your Temptation
Clearly define what you are being tempted to do. List the benefits you hope to gain as a result and consider what costs you might incur. What is at stake if you succumb to this instant gratification? How might it set you back from accomplishing your goal? Recognize also that unforeseen consequences of your impulsive behavior might take some time to appear.
Clearly define what you are being tempted to do. List the benefits you hope to gain as a result and consider what costs you might incur.
Plan what you will do when faced with temptation. Consider how you will respond in a variety of situations that tend to bring you down. You are responsible for your choices and actions. So, do not react impulsively but respond deliberately.
Avoid Unhealthy Situations
You are not as strong as you think you are. It is often better to avoid tempting situations rather than attempt to conquer them through willpower. Distance yourself from instances in which you have found the most significant struggle to display self-control.
It is often better to avoid tempting situations rather than attempt to conquer them through willpower.
Wait Before Acting
Desires come and go like waves on the sea. When an unhealthy craving seems overwhelming, wait several minutes before acting on it. Interrupt your mechanical behavior with deliberate action. Avoid acting rashly and reject any trade-offs that would disrupt your progress.
Direct Your Attention
While you wait, what will occupy your thoughts? Trying not to think about your indulgence typically does not work. It is better to direct your thoughts to something else entirely. Control your thoughts, and your behavior will follow.
The ability to control yourself increases when you know someone is watching what you do. Share relevant details with an accountability partner so you can receive the many benefits that come from this critical relationship. Be ready both to report and to explain your choices and actions to someone who desires your success.
The ability to control yourself increases when you know someone is watching what you do.
Maintain Your Health
Your practice of self-control relates to your overall physical health. You are more likely to make bad decisions when you are tired, hungry, or in pain. So, take care to monitor your activity and exercise regimen as well as your sleep and nutrition patterns.
Move Forward with Self-Control
Having self-control enables you to evaluate and control your behavior, so you can accomplish what really matters. How well do you manage your impulses of thinking, feeling, and acting? Take time today to decide how will discipline yourself going forward. Keep striving toward your goals so you can enjoy the success you truly desire.