Photo by Martin Hirtreiter; Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Martin Hirtreiter; Wikimedia Commons

Over the last three blog posts, you’ve learned about the limits to self-control, and you’ve learned how your impulses can sometimes take over your money behavior.

Now take a look at the strategies for strengthening self-control. Here are the top ten tips:

  1. Gain knowledge about the “high risk situations” that may disrupt your progress toward your financial goal, and then create a plan for dealing with each potential obstacle.
  2. Make simple changes in your environment that will allow you to avoid temptation.
  3. Design prompts, triggers, or systems that will allow you to make a goal-consistent decision without having to agonize over it each time it comes up (for example, automatic savings plans).
  4. Formulate subgoals or intermediate goals that will allow you to take steps toward your larger objective, and set clear expectations and a time frame for each one.
  5. Practice, practice, practice! Repeat healthy behaviors until they eventually become more automatic and replace their unhealthy counterparts.
  6. Train your working memory to strengthen your ability to focus on a goal despite multiple distractions. You can do this through simple mindfulness or present-focus exercises.
  7. Strengthen your ability to shift your attention to the less tempting aspects of the situation you are in.
  8. Reduce the stress (both emotional strain and cognitive overload) in your life. Stress makes you more vulnerable to acting impulsively.
  9. Get enough sleep in order to make certain that your frontal lobes are in good working order. This will allow you to exercise good judgment and to inhibit your impulses when needed.
  10. Plan breaks throughout the day that allow you to monitor your level of self-control and prevent regulatory depletion.

Which of these strategies have you tried? What are the strategies with which you are willing to experiment?