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. 

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 ... is the ability to regulate and alter responses in order to avoid undesirable behaviors, increase desirable ones, and achieve long-term goals.

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.
  • Avoid temptation. 
  • Plan ahead. If you are faced with temptation, what actions will you take to avoid giving in? 
  • Practice using self-control. Think of self-control as a muscle. While hard work may exhaust the muscle in the short-term, the muscle will grow stronger over time as you continue to work it.
  • Try focusing on one goal at a time. Once you turn the behaviors needed to reach a goal into habits, you will not need to devote as much effort toward maintaining them. 

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Prevention of Ego Depletion
  • Take steps to boost your mood.
  • Change your outlook and focus on the big picture.
  • Use positive self-affirmation to counter the effects of ego depletion.
  • Make sure you get proper sleep.
  • Practice deep breathing and mindfulness meditation.

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What willpower is

Willpower is the ability to resist or delay short-term desires to achieve long-term goals. Other names for willpower are self-discipline, self-control, self-regulation, determination, drive. Willpower consists of three things:

  • "I won't" power - Saying "no" to temptation.
  • "I will" power - Saying "yes" to the things you know will lead to long-term satisfaction.
  • "I want" power - Remembering your goal.
Setbacks are Your Friends
There will be hurdles and setbacks in the quest of trying to make yourself healthier.
Being harsh on yourself if you miss a day, or indulge in something you are avoiding will do no good. Accepting that you are not perfect and treating yourself with love and care is a much better strategy than being self-critical.

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