Master The Art of Self-Control

Self-Control is not something you get and it’s all over with.

Like a Muscle that you have to keep training, self-control will also keep growing and shrinking depending on how you use it.

Take New Year’s Resolutions for example. Many people make great Resolutions at the start of every year but only very few can follow through with them.

Why do they not have the self-control to abstain from certain things or to continue to do others?

It’s because they slip once, then once more, and before they know it they are back where they used to be.

Its a step-by-step process that either makes, or breaks, your self-control.

To master this, then, it will not be about the one thing you do to get the ‘AHA’ moment that changes how you view Self-control, but rather the disciplined choices every single day that change it eventually.

That being said, there are a few things you can watch out for:

  • Commit to what you said you would — It all starts before you even act. When you tell yourself you will do something and do it you build a self-respect that takes more to break. This is a Resistance to loosing your self-control.
  • Everything counts — Every act of self-control you partake in, whether it is at the store when you resist that chocolate bar again or in the morning when you control yourself to rise at the first alarm, every choice matters.
  • Move on — You will not be perfect. There will be times where you loose your sense of self-control, even if just for a moment. When that happens, accept it and move on. If you blame or shame yourself for a miss you will feel so terrible that it will be that much harder to keep the self-control at the next instance it’s needed. This is the core of the slippery slope people fall into.
  • Count your Wins — Instead of focusing so much on the moments you miss, focus your attention on every win you get. Every time you do well, every morning you stand up on time, every green you eat and every chocolate bar you say No to is a win. Remember them. Count them. They will make a positive difference in your focus.
  • Make more Choices — To be honest, nothing is either good or bad. It’s the habit that makes it good or bad. That being said, sometimes you really need that chocolate bar to relax, feel good and because you deserve it. If you do take it, that’s okay, just remember what choice you are making here. There are positives to this choice (taste, comfort, etc.) and negatives (sugar, lower self-control, etc.) but it is your life to live and you should enjoy it too. Find your balance!
    Conscious dips are so much better than unconscious ones. Be aware of the choice you make and you avoid a lot of the other fallbacks.
    However, do not go overboard and remember why you want to remain in control.
  • Use more Tools — I, for one, suck a lot at remembering things. That is why I’ve set up 10 reminders throughout the day to just remind me of a single thing I want to adopt. It may not be the same for you, but if you do need reminders, accountability from friends, or anything else, then do yourself the favor and take it. For in the end what matters not is how you got the self-control but that you did.
  • Reset Often — At the beginning it will be more likely that you fall into slumps. That’s okay. Reset the year, month, week, or day whenever you notice it. As soon as you realize it, that moment will mark the rest of your life, and it is the perfect time, and the earliest time, to start with the self-control again.
    Reminder: It is not about being perfect but about how many wins you get. If you follow through 300/365 days a year with no streak longer than 30 days that is still better than 100 days in a row and then quitting forever.
  • Remember the Bigger Picture — Too often do we get lost in the details and forget what it was all for. When we remember, however, we often find the thing requiring self-control to be far less bothersome than before.
    Example: A dad needing self-control to quit smoking will have a far higher chance if he remembers that it is for him to be fit by the time he gets to walk his daughter down the aisle.
  • Know this is for you — With every choice you make make certain it is a choice that has your best interests in mind. This is for you, this is your life, your choices and your consequences. Make sure they are the right ones every time you choose. If you remember this often enough, you will lead a life without regret, which often means a good amount of self-control.

Life Coach, Speaker, Writer. Published on TIME, Inc & Huffington Post.

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