Self control is complex cognitive process that is fundamentally important for personal, professional and social success. We use self control to avoid temptations, delay immediate gratification for longer term rewards and achieve lasting behavior change.
I have studied or implemented a little over 100 programs that make use of the cognition of self control to achieve behavior change. In each case, a key feature of the design included simple tactics or corrective actions participants used to avoid failures in self control. An interesting article on How Self Control Works, makes the same point. In reviewing Mischel’s famous marshmallow study, where children are asked to chose between receiving a marshmallow now or more later, researchers made a critical observation:
“Some children sat on their hands, physically restraining themselves, while others tried to redirect their attention by singing, talking or looking away. Moreover, Mischel found that all children were better at delaying rewards when distracting thoughts were suggested to them.”
Simple tactics that can be taught to others to improve self control. This is great news for anyone in the business of making behavior change (all of us). The key is to discover and teach simple corrective actions that help avoid failures in self control.
Very interested to hear from readers that have used this strategy. What teachable tactics for improved self control have you discovered?