8 Simple Tricks to Build Self-Control

#5 is the most important to me, and the one that made me keep on track.

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

Today we’re going to learn how to build self-control. I know your time is the most valuable thing, so say no more, and let’s dive into it.

1. Set your standard

Set a standard right after you wake up. That standard should guide your behavior for the rest of the day. Start your day by keeping yourself in check. Avoid distractions like watching YouTube while you eat or control your laziness by waking up without that snooze button. These small victories are the path to self-control. Develop yourself discipline, and it’ll help you resist temptation time after time.

2. Find your locus of control

I have a question for you. Who’s in control of your life? Is it you or is it someone else? Let me explain… most people assume they’re in control of their own life. But when they stop and think about it, they realize someone else is deciding their life for them, psychologists call this “locus of control”.

Locus of control is any person, community, or idea that guides your definition of success. For example, your family might push you to take a certain job. Maybe they’ve convinced you that lawyers are successful while artists are failures. Or maybe your hometown has a huge effect on your priorities.

“Generally, most people have either an internal or external locus of control. Those with an internal locus of control believe that their actions matter, and they are the authors of their own destiny. Those with an external locus of control attribute outcomes to circumstances or chance.” — Psychology Today

Those last two examples, your parents and your hometown are both examples of an external locus of control. On the other hand, the internal locus of control begins with you. It means you base your decisions on your own value. If you have an internal locus of control you motivate yourself, you inspire yourself, and you change your own direction without worrying about what other people expect of you.

Back in 2019, a study from The Journal Frontiers in psychology found out that your locus of control has a substantial effect on your mindset. In fact, individuals with an external locus of control are more likely to experience psychological strain and less satisfaction with their life.

If you want to build self-control make your own choices. Anytime you’re about to make an important decision ask yourself, is this really what I want or am I doing this because someone else expects me to?

The more you follow that internal compass the more control you’ll feel over your own life.

3. Adopt a doing mentality

Imagine you’re adopting new goals. For example, this year you really want to exercise on a regular basis. So, you plan to try to exercise three to four days a week. It sounds like a good goal, right? But… there’s a problem here. The word “try”. We must be careful about which mentality we’re adopting.

A “trying” mentality makes your goals seem optional. It creates room for failure, and it assumes that you, eventually, are going to mess up. But what’s the point of setting a new goal if you’re expecting yourself to fail?

That’s why adopting a new mentality is so much more effective for developing self-control. Instead of trying to work out 3 to 4 times a week, say yourself you’re going to workout 3 to 4 times a week. I know, it may sound silly but this rigid mindset stops you from flaking on your goals and losing motivation.

A doing mentality is all about one thing, picking a goal and sticking to it.

4. Rearrange your priorities

It’s important to keep your priorities in check. Just ask yourself, what are my most important goals? And those goals should sit at the top of your priority list. These are the goals you’re working to accomplish every single day.

Then there’s a second question, what are my least important goals? These are the goals you want but don’t really need. The ones you don’t mind fading into the background. Both of those kinds of goals are crucial for self-control because you need to know what comes first, and what comes last.

If you keep your priorities in check, you can stay firm on the things that matter, and give yourself some room to breathe on the things that don’t.

5. Monitor your progress

This is the most important to me, and the one that made me keep on track without failing on my goals. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, which I was, you want to see a lower number on your scale, right? If you’re trying to be more productive, you want to cross those items off your to-do list. Progress inspires you to push harder and harder every day.

Don’t let that progress go to waste.

To build self-control keep tabs on your progress. Pay attention to the little improvements that you make over time. They might seem small or insignificant now but every bit of progress adds up.

That way when you’re feeling tempted or losing control you can look back on how far you’ve come, and remind yourself what you are fighting for.

6. Boost your energy

You’re lazy when you’re unmotivated or when you’re tired. If your body and brain don’t have the energy to perform, your productivity is going to nosedive, and that’s why fatigue is such a powerful predictor of both self-control and performance.

So… How can you give your energy a boost?

According to a study from the University of Georgia, low-intensity exercise reduces fatigue symptoms by 65 percent. Exercising multiple times per week can reduce general fatigue, which means, you have more energy to get things done. Also, according to a study from the journal Behavioural Modification, physical activity increases self-discipline on its own. This means consistent exercise will keep you in control of your life. But… why? Because regular routine teaches you to delay gratification and stick to your goals.

Therefore, if you want to build self-control it might be time to start hitting the gym.

7. Automate your goals

Goal automation is a strategy where you decide on certain things ahead of schedule. It’s effective when you face-to-face with temptations. You automatically know what to say. Imagine your going to dinner with a group of friends. You’ve been really good with your nutrition, so you want to make sure you order the healthiest option available. Instead of getting tempted by all the other delicious options, you decide before dinner that you’re going to order a salad.

So that’s exactly what you do. And by the time you get to the restaurant you don’t even have to look at the menu. You know already what to order. Relieving that pressure and keeping your habits under control.

8. Practice your failsafe

People who automate their goals often use this strategy called a fail-safe. Let’s say you decide to order that salad but your friend orders a burger that makes your mouth water. You know what you’re supposed to say you decided ahead of time, but that irresistible temptation of that burger is changing your mind. That’s the moment when you use the fail-safe.

A fail-safe is a ritual you do every time you lose control. You can close your eyes and count to ten. Others go to the bathroom and look in the mirror. You can choose almost anything as your fail-safe as long as it helps you clear your head.

So… what do you think about these tricks? If you know any other tips, please share with us in the comments.

See you soon, guys.

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Human; Engineer. I tried to be normal once… Worst two minutes of my life. 🪴

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