Self-control Isn’t Needed When You Pre-decide!
One of the best ways to be an individual with a lot of self-control is to learn how to NOT use it. That doesn't sound right does it?
In the book Willpower by Roy Baumeister, he posed this great theory based on his research. Self-control (willpower, self-governance) is a finite energy that everyone has. Since it is finite, you tend to use it in some areas of your life and not in others. Therefore, it is imperative that you use your self-control wisely.
Since self-control is a finite energy, pre-decide on how you will deal with temptations and weaknesses. Save your self-control for emergencies.
How will you deal with your temptations?
Most people think they have more self-control of their lives than they really have. And, that means it is easy to think you can dabble in questionable actions and it won't hurt you. It is so easy to believe that lie and that's why you can end up addicted, in prison, or suffering from broken relationships.
How many men, and women nowadays, believe that a little porn won't hurt them? It is an epidemic in the world. How about addiction to drugs? People that are now addicted, didn't wake up one day and say, "I want to be addicted to painkillers, so let me find some!" They believed a lie that said, "It won't happen to me. I just need to feel different than I do right now."
Or, in business, a little lie about a personal expense on your expense account won't hurt, right?
Every one of those examples would have had a better outcome, if pre-deciding was used. Because, pre-deciding keeps you away from the edge, so that you don't slide down the slippery slope.
Create clear, unambiguous rules and guidelines
Pre-deciding is a very simple concept to help your self-control. You think about situations that are difficult for you or that you just don't want to do or have in your life. Pre-decide that you will stay true to your good values.
Pre-deciding is about decisions about things that seem inconsequential like picking up a hitchhiker, or as major as monogamy.
Of course, you might say, "I will commit to doing the right thing." While that is very good, it isn't as powerful as committing to a specific "right thing." For example, if you decide you want to be monogamous, what have you decided to do in times you are with a person you are attracted to? You will need to choose what "right thing" needs to happen in that specific situation.
Just like leaders need to have and provide clear expectations to create a structure of productivity and high performance, you need to create clear rules and guidelines. Those rules and guidelines become your first, and sometimes, last line of defense when you are tempted to violate your values.
Strengthened by a sacred command
Finally, Roy Baumeister's research showed that a sacred command helps. When you commit to what God or your higher power says, you increase the probability for self-governance. So, be certain about those things that God wants you to do and not do.
Pre-decide to follow some sacred commands. You will save your finite self-governance energy for those things that may be surprises.