You suffer from a split personality.
There is the “Thinking You” that wants to lose weight, stop smoking, read books or save money.
Then there is the “Impulsive You” that eats cake, smokes- but only when drinking, watches hours of mind-numbing TV or can’t resist a $6 Starbucks on the way to work.
The “Thinking You” is always yelling at the “Impulsive You”: “Have some self-control.”
“Smart You” may win for a while but when you’re tired, or hungry or lonely or sad, YOU are going to lose.
Keeping a grip all the time is exhausting. It’s no fun and it doesn’t work. It is true that once new habits are well established things get a lot easier, but in the beginning before your desired behavior is a habit, it can be a battle.
So, how do you win? Easy, you cheat.
If you need $150 a paycheck to go into savings to cover those non-monthly expenses like insurance, taxes, vacation and Christmas you have two choices. You can cash your check and wrestle “Impulsive You” for the $150 or you can, either through direct deposit or automatic transfer, have the money put where it belongs before you ever see it.
If the morning Starbucks is not in your budget but you routinely find yourself there, try one of these solutions:
- If you can budget one a week you may be able to pacify “Impulsive You” by saying we’ll stop on Friday.
- If your to-go cup is full with really good home brewed coffee when you leave the house, there is less reason to stop.
- Can you take another route? Maybe pick up a co-worker on the way and enjoy some conversation instead.
Nobody knows “Impulsive You” like “Thinking You”. Plan around your temptations. Self-control is not an endless resource. At any given moment you’ve only got about a cup of it, use it up and you are at “Impulsive You’s” mercy for the rest of the day. When you know a situation saps your self-control, avoid it. Automate important or difficult processes so you don’t need to re-make your decisions every month.
Remember the kids that stared at the marshmallow? They ate it. They used up all their self control and the marshmallow was still sitting there, so they gobbled it up. The successful kids distracted themselves by looking away or singing songs.
Take a lesson from the 4-year-olds and learn to distract the “Impulsive You”.