Self-control and discipline is something that I have struggled with for a long time. I never really knew what the effects were until very recently I realized that most of my problems have their root in my lack of self control. I give in far too easy to useless distractions such as reddit, instagram, and other forms of social media.
The book The Marshmallow Test is a great book on understanding the underpinnings of self-control and how it effects our life, from our daily life to life-building habits and decision making. The explanations are very in depth and interesting, and it challenges conventional thinking about self-control and anxiety.
I would like to list the actions that can be taken to improve my own self-control skills, relating to my own tendency to give in to temptation and distractions and my own anxiety.
1. Be more future biased. Self-control, in it’s core, will benefit greatly in the future for the minuscule trade off in the present. As long as I cannot cool the present wants and heat up the future needs, I will value today’s effort much less than tomorrow’s gain. Be more future minded by focusing myself that if I don’t eat healthily now, I risk my health in the future. If I don’t exercise today, I might be less active in the near future. Do not focus on the present feeling of laziness or feeling good.
2. Create If-Then plans. If-Then plans are short actions to take my mind off temptations and distractions. The If part should be the hot spots that trigger these reactions. For example, my trigger for opening reddit in class would be boredom. The If-Then plan would be “If I feel bored in class, then I close my laptop and pull out my pen and notebook”. These triggers can be identified by reflecting and also by keeping track of the impulses throughout the day.
3. Rehearse the If-Then action. Just like a program, decision making must be defined by a condition. By preparing the If-Then action beforehand, I will reduce my decision making effort a lot and help me through distractions and temptations.
4. Imagine the effects as it hits you right now instead of the future. Take example of people who are allergic to something. They instantly avoid that thing immediately, because they will feel the effect instantly they get in contact with it. Imagine you’ll instantly becoming sick when you keep eating unhealthily.
5. Self-distance myself out of terrible experiences. Most of the time I am reminded of something terrible that I experienced, I always place myself in the place of me, feeling overwhelmed with my own emotions and assumptions, thereby increasing stress and anxiety. By distancing myself from the experience (e.g: reexperiencing it as ‘a fly on the wall’), I could reappraise the moment itself with my cooler rational system instead of my reactive system.
These are the basic outlines on which I would like to readjust my life currently. I would like to be healthier, more productive, and happier this year. I hope I can be better by using these guidelines. I now have books written by Leo Babauta of zen-habits in my kindle queue, and I hope to also implement things from it alongside these guidelines.