Have you ever done something you didn’t intend to do? Ever find yourself wondering why you can’t stop yourself from going down the same not-so-great path over and over again? We’ve all had times we wished we had more control over our actions. So, today we’re sharing 5 ways to develop more self-control. 

Remove temptation

One of the best ways to develop more self-control is to remove temptation. Research has shown that rather than denying themselves all day long, people who exhibit the best self-control avoid situations in which they have to continually deny themselves. They remove the temptation by avoiding the trigger. This tweak to their environment or routine, makes all the difference in their ability to exhibit self-control and as a result, they are happier in the short and long term. They spent less time fighting the “do I or don’t I” battles on the inside, which leads to greater contentment. 

Prioritize sleep 

About one-third of Americans aren’t getting the minimum 7 hours of sleep each night. Your body responds to sleep deprivation the same way it does to alcohol intoxication. Without sleep, you don’t make good decisions. Your impulse control is inhibited and you are more likely to make decisions you later regret. You are also less likely to eat well, exercise, and destress, which results in poor health. To develop more self-control, make sleep a priority. Aim for that 7 hour mark each night for better impulse control and wiser decisions. 

Be quick to forgive

The longer you beat yourself up about a bad decision, the harder it is to develop more self-control. If you make a small mistake and begin to berate your choice, you can quickly fall prey to what researchers call the “what the hell” effect. In short, you throw in the towel. A small mistake snowballs into a series of choices that aren’t in line with your goals or values. To develop more self-control, be quick to forgive yourself. Make a better choice at the next available opportunity and move on. 

Create routines

Willpower is a limited resource. Over the course of the day it diminishes as decision fatigue sets in. To preserve brain power, create routines early in your day that you can follow with minimal effort. Choose your outfit the night before or stick to basic mix and match clothing. Standardize your breakfast and your pre-work routine. These habits will help you resist temptations and develop more self-control as you preserve your willpower for the harder decisions you will face the rest of your day.  

Make decisions in advance

No matter how hard you try to avoid them, you will face temptations from time to time. While you can do your best to avoid them, some are inevitable. To successfully develop more self-control in these moments, create an implementation intention to help you respond in line with your goals or values. For example, when the treats show up in the breakroom and your goal is to reduce sugar, have a plan. Decide in advance that you will leave the room or grab a yogurt instead. Hundreds of studies have shown that implementation intentions help you stick to your goals. 

Which strategy are you ready to try to develop more self-control? Pick one and get started today!