The Lazy (but Smart!) Person’s Guide to Mastering Self-Control

If you watched any TV during the 90’s, you will probably remember the Lay’s potato chip challenge.

Their catchphrase was “Betcha can’t eat just one.” And as those diabolical marketing geniuses predicted, I did find it awfully hard to eat just one and call it a day – and I don’t even particularly like potato chips.

Indeed, we all know that many of the things we want most dearly in the long-term (e.g. becoming a great clarinetist, publishing a book, having healthy teeth) require effortful activities in the immediate present that aren’t necessarily fun (e.g. practicing, writing, flossing).

So if we’re going to make meaningful progress towards our long-term goals, we have to find a way to exert some self-control and put the desires of future us above those of present-day us.

But if we’ve learned nothing else from decades of failed New Years’ resolutions, it’s that self-control is not exactly our forte. Sure, we’re great at starting things, but sticking with things is a different story.

But what if that’s because we’ve been going about it the wrong way?

What if there were an easier, less painful, and more effective way to get ourselves to do the right thing?

The Sneakier, More Insidious Form of Procrastination (and What to Do about It)

The Sneakier, More Insidious Form of Procrastination (and What to Do about It)

Final exams. Auditions. April 15th.

What do these have in common?

They’re deadlines. A final date by which we have to submit a body of work. So we count down the days, drag our feet, and shake our fist at the fast-approaching date.

Because as much as we may want to earn a 4.0 GPA, win a principal job, and remain on good terms with the IRS, turning these goals into reality takes work. And deep, thoughtful practice/writing/analysis isn’t always the funnest thing in the world. Especially when we are surrounded by an infinite universe of urgent, fascinating activities – like vacuuming our violin case or deep-cleaning the coffee maker.

Yet…where would we be without them?