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Consultant Proficiency Resources: How 2 series-Exercise Self-Control

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

On a Wellness Wednesday, consider the lack of self-control as the one culprit that can foster a negative work environment. Let's first consider the definition in our example of having more self-control. Self-control is regulating and altering your responses to avoid undesirable behaviors, increase desirable ones, and achieve long-term goals. A self-controlled person exhibits a great deal of willpower and personal control. They don't act impulsively and can regulate their emotions and actions effectively. A leader that exercises self-control cultivates a healthy and positive work environment. Let's examine self-control and how we, as leaders, can pursue self-control.

According to a 2022 article from VeryWellMind, there are three primary types of self-control:

  • Impulse control refers to the ability to manage urges and impulses. People who struggle with impulse control may act first without thinking about the consequences of their actions.

  • Emotional control refers to the ability to regulate emotional responses. Someone struggling with emotional control may struggle to manage strong emotions. They may overreact, experience lasting bad moods, and get overwhelmed by the intensity of their feelings.

  • Movement control refers to controlling how and when the body moves. A person with difficulty with movement control may experience restlessness and struggle to remain still.

How important is self-control in your day-to-day life? A Stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 27% of respondents identified a lack of willpower as the primary factor keeping them from reaching their goals. As part of your self-reflection, let's consider whether a lack of self-control is the problem of your organizational woes. VeryWellMind offered some tips for exercising self-control.

1-Avoid Temptation

This is an effective way of making the most of your available self-control. Avoiding temptation ensures you do not "use up" your available self-control before it is needed.

One way to avoid temptation is to find a healthy distraction, whether it's the desire to eat, drink, spend, or indulge in some other undesired behavior.

Go for a walk, call a friend, throw in a load of laundry, or do whatever it takes to get your mind off whatever is tempting you.

2-Plan Ahead

Consider possible situations that might break your resolve. If you are tempted, what actions will you take to avoid giving in? Research has found that planning can improve willpower even when people have experienced the effects of ego depletion.

For example, if you are trying to reduce your sugar intake and have difficulty controlling late afternoon hunger pangs, eat a well-balanced lunch packed with plenty of fiber, protein, and whole grains that will keep you full longer.

3-Focus on One Goal at a Time

Setting many goals at once (such as making a list of several New Year's resolutions) is usually an ineffective approach. Depleting your willpower in one area can reduce self-control in other areas. Choosing one specific goal and focusing your energy on it is best.5

Once you turn the behaviors needed to reach a goal into habits, you will not need to devote as much effort toward maintaining them. You can then use your resources to work on other goals.


Praying is one of the ways to improve self-control. Self-control or temperance is noted as one of the Fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). In addition, meditation assists with strengthening one's self-control muscle. Mindfulness meditation is a great place to start learning to be more self-aware and to resist temptations better. This technique can also help you learn to slow your thoughts, which can help you control the gut impulses that can get in the way of your self-control.

Leaders must possess attributes to successfully lead a healthy organization. The first step is to self-reflect and understand the areas you are lacking, which builds self-awareness. If you lack self-control, this attribute must be tamed before leading effectively.

Warm Regards,


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