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The Complete Guide to Self-Control | Scott H Young

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https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2019/09/30/self-control/

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The Complete Guide to Self-Control | Scott H Young
Indulge now and pay the price later? Or wait a little and reap bigger rewards in the future? Many of life's biggest challenges come down to a simple trade off. Self-control isn't easy. But it is possible to make it easier. In this guide, I've teamed up with cognitive science PhD student Jakub Jilek for ...

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Self-control

Self-control

It’s your ability to resolve conflicts between your short-term desires and your long-term goals.

For example, successful self-control means sacrificing immediate pleasure (cookies a...

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Why self-control matters

People who have high self-control aren’t missing out on enjoyment. Not being able to resist temptation and enjoying life are not the same things.

They tend to eat in a ...

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Biological limits to self-control

Research showed that self-control is ultimately limited by our biology. We can’t exercise effortful self-control indefinitely – the brain has to do regular maintenance to remain functional.

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Achieving great self-control

People that are great at self-control don't have to make more effort. Instead, they avoid effortful strategies and use easier ones.

In this way, they don’t tax and overwork their ...

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Bad self-discipline strategies

  • Thought suppression: when you consciously attempt not to think about something. It can have some benefits in the short term, but it takes a lot more effort than other strateg...

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Make temptation less fun

Use a ‘commitment contract’. This is a way to impose costs on self-control failure.

For example, you sign a contract with a friend or a company and place a financial depos...

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Adjusting your identity

... to prevent self-control failures. Research has shown that people who have developed a self-image around virtuous activities are more likely to identify and resolve self-control conflict...

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Self-control and mindfulness

Many studies have shown that mindfulness is an effective way for boosting our self-control.

Mindfulness doesn’t suppress or resist your thoughts and emotions. It just changes your per...

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Removing distractions

Distractions cause cognitive load: they fill up your working memory. As a result, there’s less space for your long-term goals.

A distraction can be anything such as chatting with friends, lis...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Brute willpower doesn't work

So we should stop worshiping self-control and start thinking about diluting the power of temptation. Because resisting temptation either only has short-term gains or can be an outright failu...

Willpower is not the lucky ticket to success

Studies have shown that people that are really good at achieving their goals are not the ones that put more effort into exerting self-control in the face of temptations, but the ones that experience fewer temptations to start with.

People who are good at self-control

  • They actually enjoy the activities some of us resist (eating healthy, studying, exercising)
  • They have better decision-making habits
  • Some people just experience fewer temptations
  • It’s easier to have self-control when you’re wealthy - when you’re poor, the future is less certain.

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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 on Self-Control

  • A 2011 survey found that 27 % of respondents identified a lack of willpower as the primary factor keeping them from reaching their goals. 
  • One study found that students who exhibited greater self-discipline had better grades, higher test scores, and were more likely to be admitted to a competitive academic program. 
  • The study also found that when it came to academic success, self-control was a more important factor than IQ scores.
  • A health study found that people who were rated as having high levels of self-control during childhood continued to have high levels of physical and mental health in adulthood.
  • Research has found that self-control is a limited resource. In the long-term, exercising self-control tends to strengthen it. 

Motivation and Monitoring

A lack of willpower is not the only factor that affects goal attainment.

  • There needs to be a clear goal and the motivation to change. Having an unclear or overly general goal and insufficient motivation can lead to failure.
  • You need to monitor your actions daily towards the achievement of the goal.
  • You need to have willpower.

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Willpower is like a muscle

Just like going to the gym and building up strength, the more you train your willpower by accomplishing tasks on a consistent basis

Self-Discipline - a series of healthy habits

Long term change is better served by building better habits, than by forcing your willpower. 

You will choose the apple over the cake for a number of times ... and then give up. Building a habit to start the day by going to the gym will work better.

Habits = “automatic” responses...

 ...to familiar environmental cues. 

They form when you engage in a behavior repeatedly in the presence of consistent stimuli.

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