Fast Company magazine recently conducted an interview on their website with Dan Heath, author of the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. In the video (which is also transcribed), Dan explains why changes in behavior are so difficult:
Psychologists have discovered that self-control is an exhaustible resource. And I don’t mean self-control only in the sense of turning down cookies or alcohol, I mean a broader sense of self-supervision—any time you’re paying close attention to your actions, like when you’re having a tough conversation or trying to stay focused on a paper you’re writing. This helps to explain why, after a long hard day at the office, we’re more likely to snap at our spouses or have one drink too many—we’ve depleted our self-control.
I also believe that self control is a behavior that needs to be practiced to be improved. In the book Mind in the Making, author Ellen Galinsky suggests many strategies for helping children develop and boost their self control and these strategies can be just as beneficial for adults. From my review of Galinsky’s book:
Try playing games that require concentration and paying attention (guessing games, “I Spy,” and puzzles), and games that involve rules that change (many strategy games do this). Listening to audio books and following along with the plot, setting up reward systems for finishing difficult tasks (delayed satisfaction), and getting plenty of rest are additional ways to improve focus.
For more tips on building up your energy to make a change and work on your self control, check out the following articles from the Unclutterer archives: