These days we are all watching videos on how to’s. From yoga and salsa classes to “make your own face mask”. We all had to learn to adapt to a new circumstance. Changing is not easy and makes us feel anxious. That is why increasing your self-control can help you stay positive while adapting to the new normal, reduce anxiety and accomplish your day to day activities, no matter the circumstance. This quarantine a special opportunity that we can take to build the habits that can make us successful in the long term.
We are what we do every day
According to a study from Duke University, around 45 percent of our everyday actions are made up of habits. Our habits, then, are a reflection of who we are. We become what we do frequently. Success comes from what you repeat, repeat and repeat until you build a habit, and is no longer an effort.
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A study from the University of Scranton found that 92 percent of people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions, and another found that 80 percent will have already failed by the second week of February. So, what differentiates a person that can keep their resolutions from the ones that can’t?
Roy F. Baumeister explains that “Psychology has found two traits that consistently lead to success in a vast assortment of undertakings. One is intelligence. The other is self-control.”
The self-control muscle
Researchers have also found that you cannot increase your intelligence or IQ (not yet at least), but you can improve your self-control. “Self-control is essentially a matter of changing yourself, or of replacing one response with a different one.”
While self-control is like a muscle, willpower is a kind of strength, and you can exercise it. A person’s willpower is limited, and sometimes it is low. If you use up your willpower in the morning to work, then you may have little willpower in the afternoon. To maximize your willpower, what you can do is exercise your self-control muscle regularly. How can you exercise it? No tools or gym equipment required. To exercise your self-control muscle you just need to focus on acquiring new habits and sticking to them. It will make you better in self-control and in other areas too, like improving self-organization or even patience. Like a leg or glute muscle that you can use it to run, walk, or swim. By practicing one, you get better at the others. In companies for example, we use the 5S method to teach employees how to organize their workplace as a way to exercise their self-control and self-discipline muscle.
Read more: The power of self-discipline
As Roy Baumeister says, to be more successful, you have to improve your self-control. To improve your self-control, you have to exercise it, and the best way found to exercise it is by developing new habits.
Starting a new good habit
Now think of what you would like to accomplish this month. Would you like to learn how to dance salsa, organize your home-office or read a book? Would you like to learn to manage your time more effectively? Build a daily routine that can help you achieve it. Time is precious and you don’t want to waste it, even if now days seem longer than ever, we still have our 24 hours.
Sticking to habits like watching TV every night is not hard. Though sticking to good habits like waking up early, keeping your house organized or eating healthy can be a little harder. But if they are hard, they have the positive effect of boosting your mood. Making your bed every morning as part of a routine, for example, is a small achievement that you commit to every day and leads to more significant results and satisfaction. It is like a “check off your to-do list” effect.
Repeat, repeat and repeat
Remember that we become what we do more frequently, so even if you get tired and frustrated at first, keep practicing your new habit. Success comes from what you repeat, repeat and repeat until you build a habit, and is no longer an effort. To develop a new good habit, just remember frequency matters. Success comes from what you do consistently. Keep moving and trust the process. In the next blog post, you will learn more about the three things that make changing habits easier.
Lu Paulise – Coach, book author and speaker
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