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10 Tips to Increase Self-Control

Another consistent trait of peak performers is their high aptitude for self-control. Self-control is our ability to stay steadfast regarding long-term goals despite natural human urges to partake in activities that are instantly gratifying. In excess, instantly gratifying activities can often lead to various forms of destructive addiction. Many instantly gratifying activities also lack the positive compounding effects that activities with deferred gratification possess. Many of you probably remember the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment on this subject. Here is a great little video highlighting how easy it is to be tempted, even when promised a greater reward in the future.

Training and acquiring mastery in anything requires work and practice. The good news is that there are many ways we can train ourselves to improve self-control. Here are 10 tips to increase self-control from the May / June 2011 edition of Scientific American Mind:

  1. Become aware of the risks and long term negative consequences of undesirable behavior.
  2. Increase your personal engagement by, for example, telling friends about your goals.
  3. Transform abstract overarching objectives into intermediate steps or milestones.
  4. Take pleasure in achieving partial successes and reaching intermediate milestones.
  5. Formulate “if then” resolutions to deal with critical situations.
  6. Replace old bad habits with new good ones.
  7. Change your impulse by learning to associate the mere sight of temptations with negative stimuli.
  8. Identify situations that pose a particular risk and avoid them as much as possible.
  9. Train you working memory.
  10. Plan enough breaks and relaxation periods to prevent depletion of your mental resources.

If you have any additional tips on how to increase self-control please share them in the comments section below.