One challenge about keeping my happiness-project resolutions is that it takes a lot of self-control. Resolutions like “No nagging” and “Exercise better” require me to control myself. Relying on will power is very hard – so whenever possible, I abandon it. Instead of resisting temptation, I avoid it entirely.
Studies indicate that we have a limited amount of self-control, and it can be depleted. If you use a lot of self-control at work to resist the urge to yell at a co-worker, it may be harder to push yourself to cook a healthy meal when you get home.
So, because self-control is a precious resource, I try to use mine as little as possible. I look for ways to engineer situations so they don’t test my will power at all.
For example, if you don’t want to get into the ice cream, don’t buy ice cream. If your family insists on having dessert, buy a dessert you don’t like much. If you have to buy ice cream, tie it up in a bag so it’s a pain to open and so you don’t see the enticing tub when you open the freezer. Maybe you’ll even forget it’s in there.
If you don’t want to spend money, don’t go into stores. If you don’t want to add to your credit card debt, leave your credit card in your sock drawer. If you have to shop, take a list and go by yourself. If you don’t want to get drunk, don’t meet your friends in a bar. If you don’t want to spend your Sunday morning sleeping, put your alarm clock across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Instead of trying to resist ordering fries with your burger, stop eating at fast-food joints.
Have you found any good strategies for maximizing your self-control?
The days are long, but the years are short.