Co-author and friend, Chris Manolis, and I recently had an article accepted for publication in the Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice. The study investigated how the three ingredients of self-control impact our shopping. First, let me share my recipe for flexing your self-control muscle. Start with a good night’s sleep. More formally put, ego depletion is how anxious, tired or frenzied we are. A frenetic life-style is a major ingredient of self-control failure. With proper rest, relaxation, and an even –paced life-style, our self-control resources are bolstered. When we are in the proper frame of mind, we are better able to control ourselves.
The second ingredient in our self-control recipe is consistent goals. When we hold goals that oppose each other (save money versus buy stuff) it creates tension that leads to lapses in self-control. Coping with the stress associated with conflicting goals reduces the resources needed to exercise self-control in other areas of our lives. So, convince yourself that it’s people that matter most not money and possessions and you will have a lot less stress in your life and a lot fewer lapses in self-control.
The third and final ingredient to improved self-control is self-awareness. We need to be constantly vigilant about what’s going on around us. Realizing there are people, or places, or things that lead us down the slippery slope to self-control lapses is critical to countering such lapses. For example, some of our friends can be a bad influence on us. If you’re trying to save money, avoid going to the mall with the friend who has an intimate relationship with her credit cards. Or, if you’re trying to stop drinking, avoid the people and places that make this type of behavior easier.
Do you know why we make so many bad decisions when we’re drinking – because alcohol reduces our self-awareness. When our self-awareness is reduced, we take a short-term perspective on things and end up making decisions we soon regret. Next week we will talk about happiness – what it is and what we can to get more of it.
Dr. Jim RobertsDr. Roberts is a leading researcher on consumer behavior and the Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing in the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. His book SHINY OBJECTS is available on Amazon.
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