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The one thing all people with strong self-control understand

Why we fail at self-control

Why we fail at self-control
  • Factors such as negative mood, fatigue and alcohol play a large part in self-control failure.
  • Previous effort is one especially well studied factor that decreases self-control. All else being equal, a second self-control attempt after an initial one is more likely to fail than one that comes after a relatively restful period when no self-control was exercised.

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The one thing all people with strong self-control understand

The one thing all people with strong self-control understand

https://qz.com/378694/the-one-thing-all-people-with-strong-self-control-understand/

qz.com

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Key Ideas

Self-control is not fixed

Self-control is not a quality that remains stable throughout a person’s life, similar to IQ or personality. 

A person’s level of self-control tends to wax and to wane over the course of the day. Self-control is less like a mental capacity such as intelligence and more like a fluctuating resource such as physical energy.

Why we fail at self-control

  • Factors such as negative mood, fatigue and alcohol play a large part in self-control failure.
  • Previous effort is one especially well studied factor that decreases self-control. All else being equal, a second self-control attempt after an initial one is more likely to fail than one that comes after a relatively restful period when no self-control was exercised.

Understanding self-control

  • Self-control is indeed a resource, but a renewable, psychological one.
  • Goals that are motivated from within—for reasons that are personally important to us—are more likely to succeed than those that are motivated from without.
  • Succeeding at self-control is more about the desire rather than the ability to do so.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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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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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Sticking to a healthy lifestyle

Staying in shape is mostly about program compliance.

It’s not about having the best fitness program, but about having one that’s good enough, eating less junk food and making sure you...

Off limits foods

Successful dieters usually declare certain foods to be completely out of bounds, or allowed only during occasional designated cheat meals, rather than expecting themselves to eat everything in moderation.

Saying no to bad habits

It might seem like a simple matter of self-control. But it turns out that people with high self-control may not necessarily be better at resisting temptation. They might just experience it less often in the first place.

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