Self-control is the ability to regulate and alter responses to avoid undesirable behaviors and achieve long-term goals. Research has shown possessing self-control can be important for health and well-being. Common goals like losing weight, eating healthy, and saving money are just a few worthwhile ambitions that people believe require self-control. People often use a variety of terms for self-control. Find out more about what it is and some steps to help improve it for yourself.

Delaying Gratification

The ability to delay gratification, or wait to get what you want, is an important part of self-control. People are often able to control their behavior by delaying the gratification of their urges. Delaying it involves putting off short-term desires in favor of long-term rewards. Researchers have found the ability to delay gratification is important not only for attaining goals but also plays an important part in life.

Ego Depletion

Research has found that self-control is a limited resource. Exercising self-control tends to strengthen it. It allows you as a person to improve over time. Focusing self-control on one thing makes it difficult to exercise self-control on subsequent tasks throughout the day. Psychologists refer to this tendency as ego depletion. This happens when people use up their reservoir of willpower on one task, making them unable to muster up self-control to complete the task.

Link to Health

Self-control is important for maintaining healthy behaviors. What you eat, how much you work out, and whether you go to the doctor regularly are all decisions impacted by levels of self-control. They potentially will impact your life. Self-control can have potential influences on health and well-being.

Motivation and Monitoring

According to researchers, lack of willpower is not the only factor that affects goal attainment. If you are working toward a goal, three components must be present:

  • Set a clear goal and motivation to change. Having a general goal that is insufficient in terms of motivation can lead to failure. You are more likely to achieve a goal with specific motivation
  • Track actions toward achievement of a goal. Set a goal, monitor behavior, and notice how you are doing things that need to be done in order to reach your goal
  • You need to have willpower to control behavior and achieve goals. There are steps to take that will help increase this willpower but it takes motivation to change

If you want to improve self-control, you must avoid temptation. This helps ensure you don’t use up your self-control before it is needed. Plan ahead and consider possible situations that might break your resolve. Planning ahead improves willpower and gives you a sense of motivation towards a goal. Self-control is important as a skill that allows you to regulate behavior to achieve a goal. People with greater willpower tend to do better at work, school, and in life. Keep working at it and, over time, you’ll strengthen willpower so you can focus energy on attaining those goals you’ve been wanting to achieve for a long time.

A Step in the Right Direction provides quality care for clients seeking support for addiction recovery. We teach people how to live a sober life through programs, therapeutic support, and evidence-based therapies. Our recovery program is staffed by people who understand the power of addiction. For more information sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call (877) 377-3702.