Improve Your Self-Control
A recent study done by the authors of the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength indicates that self-control is actually one of the most important factors in finding success. Unfortunately, we all know just how hard it can be to maintain steady levels of self-control – especially when we’re stressed, pressed, tired or confused.
Here are a few tricks I use to improve the control when things get tough:
- Know your limits. Remember: there’s only so much energy, willpower and capacity you have. If you are constantly pushing yourself to the limit, you’ll burn yourself out and push back at others. Any machine that runs at or above 100% capacity will break down, and you will too. Balance is one of the most powerful words in any language. We simply must balance all-out efforts with recharge time. Professional athletes do it, and you should too.
- Consciously exercise willpower. Think of your will or drive to succeed like you would any muscle in your body. The more you exercise it, the stronger it will become. Find simple ways to exercise your willpower in your everyday life, and you’ll increase your capacity for self-control.
- Track your goals. It’s hard to maintain control if you’re not tracking progress. Keep budgets if you’re attempting to save money Track the calories you’re consuming if you’re trying to control your diet. Target and get enough sleep. Very simply: measures matter. They tell us when we’re on track or off the rails, and can help us regain focus quickly when the critical pushes aside the important.
- Create and use daily ‘to-do’ lists. Creating daily lists of what needs to be done is common sense, but not common practice. Prioritized lists keep us pointed in the right direction from morning until night. Your last task each day should be the creation of the next day’s list. You’ll start your day fresh, organized and focused. Try this simple self-control tool for a week and I promise you’ll see how it will help reduce your stress while increasing your productivity.
- Walk away from distractions. You don’t necessarily need to force yourself to complete a task; just make sure you put yourself in an environment where you can avoid potential distractions. The fewer distractions that surround you, the easier it will be to maintain control and complete the projects you have. Try this: only one task on your desk at a time. Everything else is placed where you can’t see it until your are done with what has to be done right now.
Self-control can be learned, exercised and mastered – even for those of us who have been in the work world for some time.
Start today with these five ideas. Let me know how they work for you.
John J. Hall, CPA
John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events.
Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”