Self-control is the ability to regulate and alter responses in order to avoid undesirable behaviors, increase desirable ones, and achieve long-term goals. Research has shown that possessing self-control can be important for health and well-being.
Common goals such as losing weight, exercising regularly, eating healthy, not procrastinating, giving up bad habits, and saving money are just a few worthwhile ambitions that people believe require self-control.
People often use a variety of terms for self-control, including discipline, determination, grit, willpower, and fortitude.
Psychologists typically define self-control as:
• The ability to control behaviours in order to avoid temptations and to achieve goals
• The ability to delay gratification and resist unwanted behaviours or urges
• A limited resource that can be depleted
1. Remove temptation
We are not wired to consistently resist temptation, a study found that the way most people resist temptation is to remove the temptation. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, “training self-control through repeated practice does not result in generalized improvements in self-control.”
So you can stop beating yourself up for not having much self-control, we’re not wired for it. So if people are not wired to have self-control, how do disciplined people exist? They remove temptation, creating effortless self-control. Instead of struggling to resist temptation, remove the temptation. Set yourself up for success by managing yourself and your surroundings by removing temptations. It helps to make decisions automatic and self-reinforcing, so you can focus on priorities and decisions that matter more.
2. Measure Your Progress
What gets measured gets managed. Monitoring your progress keeps you focused on your goals. Monitoring helps us become experts on our own behavior, and it makes habits less difficult to govern and change.
The more you want the goal, the more likely you are willing to make the efforts and sacrifices required to achieve it. The strength of people’s commitment to something depends on its value to them and the chance that the value will, in fact, occur (Value*Likelihood).
The relation between these two factors is multiplicative. This means that there will be no motivation to the goal pursuit if the value of the goal is zero, no matter how high is the likelihood of success. Similarly, there will be no motivation if the expected chance is quite low.
4. Learn How To Manage Stress
Stopping and taking a few deep breaths helps your heart rate slow down, that helps you relax in the moment. Make sure to exercise regularly, eat well and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. It all improves focus, cognitive function and your health.
You make poor decisions when your blood sugar is low and you are sleep deprived. Exercise helps you sleep better and helps you have discipline with your diet. Learning how to manage stress in healthy ways ensures you have the energy to keep grinding when work and life can feel overwhelming.
5. Prioritize Things
Make a to do list for every day, week and month, so when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you know you’re making progress and doing the very best you can. It makes you feel more in control, because feeling overwhelmed and like things are out of your control only leads to disorganization, stress and wasted time.
6. Forgive Yourself
You are going to fail, failing is a part of life. Forgive yourself and move on. Beating yourself up and worrying achieves nothing, it is wasted energy. Winston Churchill once wrote, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
Eighty percent of achieving a goal is your attitude, and good attitude is a happy worker, and you’re going to need to learn how to happily grind if you want to build self-control and achieve ambitious goals.