Self Control At Work

January 12, 2020

© Carole Kanchier, PhD ;

“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves.” Harry S. Truman

At the root of any successful person, is self control. Whether it’s success in their personal, professional or other life activities, it starts with an intention to be self disciplined. Thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and habits, must all be kept in check!

My ongoing research with workers representing varied fields demonstrates successful people have learned how to use self control to attain desired goals. So can you!

Award winning, Questers Dare to Change and my blogs offer several examples:

 Do you have self control?

Answer yes or no.

  1. I’m pretty good at resisting temptations to go out for lunch when I need to complete a project before leaving work.
  2.  I have a hard time breaking bad habits such as chewing gum when I meet with clients.
  3. I often say things at work without thinking.
  4. I behave inappropriately at employer social gathering, at times.
  5. If something at work is fun, I’ll probably do it, even if I know my supervisor may not approve.
  6. I refuse to eat junk foods at coffee breaks
  7. 7. I’m good at working toward long-term work goals.
  8. I sometimes I call in sick even if I’m
  9. Occasionally, I can’t stop myself from taking home office supplies even if I know it’s wrong.
  10. Co-workers say I have amazing self control.
  11. Computer games sometimes keep me from getting work done.
  12. At times, I do more than my share of the work so tend to get burned out.

Scoring and Interpretation: 1 point for each ‘yes’ to statements 1, 6, 7, and 10; and each ‘ no’ to statements 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, and 12. Add your scores. The higher your score the more self control you seem to have. To strengthen self discipline, try suggestions below.

Until recently, research on self-control focused almost exclusively on the benefits of having a lot of it. People who keep themselves in line also tend to be more successful in school and work; and also have better physical and mental health.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to be quite so perfect all the time and some new studies are now investigating the negative side of having too much self-control including the tendency of supervisors to have high expectations on workers with good self control, and people dumping too much work on colleagues with higher self control.

How can one person be so conscious of what they do daily while others simply throw caution to the wind? The answer to this question lies in our habits. Since about forty percent of our behavior is habit-driven, you must break bad habits.

We spend years etching neural pathways in our brains. These pathways take on specific functions such as cycling, smoking, or preparing coffee lattes. Neural pathways automate repeated behaviors in an effort to reduce the conscious-processing power in the mind. This allows the mind to focus on newer things rather than the mundane.

Developing self control

Think positively. Think and talk about what you want. View setbacks as learning opportunities.  When you hear your inner voice criticize, think of something positive to say such as “I’m learning.” Listen to inspirational tapes; read motivational books. Begin each day with positive thoughts. Associate with optimistic, supportive people.

– Strengthen confidence. Know and accept yourself. List of positive achievements and personality characteristics. Post this where you can read it daily. Don’t change to please others. Don’t compare yourself to or compete with others. Affirm yourself. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

– Reward yourself.  Each morning think of something positive to do for yourself. Every time you pull through a challenging or negative experience, give yourself a treat.

– Enjoy success. Measure yourself by what you have done, what you are doing, and what you can do. Keep a daily, weekly, or monthly record of your accomplishments and build on these. Each day do something a little better than yesterday. The exhilaration of achievement will make you feel good.

– Build desired self control habits. Start small. Repeat desired habits daily. Instead of promising a 45-minute work out every day, commit to a 5-minute walk around the block.

– Set short and long-term goals. Write these down. Ensure they’re specific and measurable. Develop a plan indicating how you will attain these. Track your progress towards goal attainment. It’s harder to get distracted when you can see the results.  Every morning, create daily goals, and identify the most important task that need to be done during the day. Then act!

Ensure your goal is consistent with your purpose. Intend to achieve these.  “I intend to lose 10 pounds by April 15,  2020.” I’m enrolling in a computer programming class offered by Institution X, April 22, 2020. Visualize your goals. See yourself completing the computer programming course with competence and confidence.

– Make choices in advance. If your goal is to pay attention at meetings, choose to leave your phone at your desk. You can’t play with it if it’s not there. If you want to get on top of your emails, decide how many emails you’ll respond to before doing something else. Just decide before the situation presents itself and you’ll find it a lot easier to remain steadfast.

–  Make lists. Start your day with a list of daily tasks you need to accomplish. Everything from emails to grocery shopping can go on the list.

– Use technology. Some technology tools can help build self-discipline. Additionally, you can set timers that limit the amount of time you spend playing a game, or on your favorite time-wasting website. Fitbit, for example, motivates people to reach health and fitness goals by tracking their work activities, exercise, sleep, weight and more.

– Plan and practice. When you make decisions in advance, you reduce temptations.  If you want to stay sober and professional at the office holiday party, decide in advance that you will limit alcohol intake.

Identify ways to make things that are bad for you less available. For instance, if snacking on salty carbs is a disaster for your diet, don’t buy the potato chips.

If you know you may have a challenging time talking with your boss about a particular topic, plan what to say in advance. Then, schedule the discussion for the time of day when you both have the most stamina and self discipline.

You will not attain self control overnight, but, if you focus on the forgoing, and keep mind, body and spirit in top working order, you’re on your way to success.

Developing self control gives you gain a sense of purpose, inner peace, confidence, and greater control over personal and professional life.

Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life, by Carole Kanchier, offers additional ways to strengthen self control.

Author Bio: Carole Kanchier, PhD, is an internationally recognized newspaper/digital columnist, registered psychologist, speaker, and author of Questers Dare to Change. Carole Kanchier has taught at University of California, Berkeley and Santa Cruz and University of Alberta, and other institutions of higher learning. Dr. Kanchier is known for her pioneering, interdisciplinary approach to human potential.