Focused, concentrated, effortful, willful control of your actions all the time is soooo draining. What do you drain? Your willpower and decision points (like in a video game.)
You can almost hear the classic digital downward swirling Pac Man sound, the sound of video game death and energy spiraling down the drain. It doesn’t really make sense in text, but for those who don’t remember or can’t hear it, it’s like BLEEDLE-BLEEDLE-bleedle.
Anyways, trying to resist those cookies? Do more pushups? Work on that novel? Finish the back room project? Learn to draw? Stop buying so much shtuffs online?
You only have so much mental-emotional-physical energy. If you’re just relying on intensive self-control, you’re set up to fail.
So, shrug it off. No big. Here’s some things to do instead.
Play Mind Games
This also takes effort, but a smaller investment of time and energy yields long term, sustainable results.
Mind Games Tip 1: Make it a game
Instead of clicking to buy, click to save. Transfer money into a dedicated savings account. Have fun watching that number uptick and strategizing how you can get money in there! Find a Savings Group or community online to build your excitement. Use an app to have your change on regular purchases set aside for savings. When new money comes in, push the limits on how much you think you can save!
Mind Games Tip 2: Enjoy the alternative
Find ways to authentically enjoy the alternative actions. Instead of click to buy, click to save and imagine the gorgeous new car you might buy. Think about how trivial the new clothes and gadgets you are used to buying are compared to the amazing new car. Or house. Look online at real estate.
Mind Games Tip 3: Teach yourself to NOT like the thing you want to avoid
Convince yourself of a new reality by engaging in consistent self talk, like: “Eeeewwww. How gross is click to buy. It drains my bank account. It provides excitement for only like 2 seconds. I don’t need more shtufff in the house. I feel like all this clutter is weighing me down. I want to be light and nimble in life and energetic. I want to live simply and clean.”
Play Space / Environment Games
Space Games Tip 1: Get farther away
I have to stop eating so many Oreos at work. I won’t keep the package at my desk, I’ll put it in the staff kitchen.
Minor obstacles and slightly increased friction (making things harder to do) reduces behaviors.
Space Games Tip 2: Get closer
I’ll keep a bowl of almonds at my desk instead.
Release the Wallet!!
Release the Wallet!! Tip 1:
Let yourself spend on wise alternative choices. Fresh, organic berries are expensive. But do you really want to change your habit? Allow yourself to spend lavishly, and guilt-free on simple changes, like berries instead of Oreos.
Shrug it Off
Shrug it Off Tip 1:
If you’re tired and have no more Self-control and Decision points, and can’t control yourself, relax, you’re OK. When it fails, shrug it off, when you are in a clearer, calm, confident mood, evaluate and make changes to help avoid that.
We do stuff that’s even a little bit easier. We don’t do stuff that’s even a little bit harder. We repeat things we authentically enjoy and like doing stuff that pulls us in and is fun (games). We don’t repeat stuff that we don’t really like or requires a ton of effortful control. We can subtly change our likes and dislikes, though it may take some self-trickery, self-talk, and exploring what works and doesn’t work.
There is hope! But it’s not in self-control.