In a previous blog article I discussed how gaining control of your life affects both your health and productivity. But controlling events and projects in your life are not easy. The fact that only about 10 percent of people accomplish their New Year’s resolutions in the following year attests to this difficulty.
Michele Solis, writing in the February, 2015 issue of Scientific American Mind, claims that getting discouraged by setbacks is one of the most common reasons that people fail to reach their goals. So attitude is of paramount importance. Look at each setback as just that – a temporary setback that provides a learning experience that helps you to adjust your approach to the goal.
Recognize also that gaining control, resisting frustration, and developing persistence all require energy that can be quickly depleted. Self-control is like a muscle, and when it becomes fatigued, it needs time to recover.
When facing a number of setbacks in life, many people become frustrated redouble their efforts and try even harder, depleting their energy and making the task even more difficult. It would be wiser to simply take a break and relieve any stress and frustration through exercise, relaxation or meditation before resuming the project.
Self-control, like a muscle, gains in strength the more it is worked; but it should never be worked to the point of exhaustion. Pace yourself, get adequate sleep, watch what you eat, and keep physically and mentally fit.
Matthew Lieberman, in his book, Social: Why our brains are wired to connect (Random House, 2013.), claims that people with higher levels of self-control have higher incomes, higher credit scores, better health and better social skills from childhood to adulthood and they report being happier in life.
There is little doubt that self-control is a brain-based executive skill well worth strengthening.