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We’ve made it!  Here we are at the fourth post in a four-part series on self-control.

We’ve covered the impulsive self, the planful self, and the conditions under which our impulses take over our behavior.

Finally, we have arrived 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 goal, and then create a plan for dealing with each potential obstacle.
  2. Make 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 (e.g., 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 timeframe 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.
  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.
  9. Get enough sleep in order to make certain that your frontal lobes are in good working order.
  10. Plan breaks throughout the day that allow you to monitor your level of self-control and prevent regulatory depletion.

What is your reaction to these strategies?

(a)   I’ll get right on it!

(b)   No, it just sounds like too much work.

(c)    Something in-between choices (a) and (b).

Send your thoughts!