Many of the questionable financial decisions we make occur because we act without first engaging in sufficient thought and reflection. We don’t give ourselves enough time to become fully aware of what we are about to do, and then we act impulsively.
Experts in the area of self-control and willpower say that the most effective thing you can do to act with greater discipline is to increase the gap between your spending impulse and your action.
What can you use to fill this gap?
- Your breath. Take a moment to focus your attention on your breath—perhaps feeling it move in and out at the tip of your nose, or noticing your belly rising and falling. Then you can return to your financial decision with a greater sense of calm.
- A walk. Take a walk before you make an important financial decision. Walking can boost your mental clarity which, in turn, supports good judgment and decision making.
- Coping thoughts. Tell yourself that you can do this—that you can take a step back from a difficult situation and approach it with greater presence of mind. Remind yourself of times when you have successfully practiced good money habits in the past.
- A change of environment. Go into another room or another place where you are far away from the source of temptation. Get immersed in the present moment in that place. Then you can return to your money decision with a fresh perspective.
- A review of your dreams and goals. Go back to your list of future financial goals and read it to yourself slowly. Shifting your focus to the long-term perspective can help you overcome short-term impulses.
Remember, when your supply of self-control is depleted, it becomes much harder to think creatively about any important topic. Do a quick assessment of your current state of impulse control before making money decisions.
Share your ideas! How do you increase the gap between your impulse and your action?