There have been studies with young children that show that willpower at a young age is a much greater indicator of future success than other indicators such as self-esteem. Research was done by offering young children the choice of having one marshmallow right away or, if they could wait a little while before eating it, they could get two. These children were then followed throughout their lives and the ones who were able to wait were proven to be more successful in their careers and personal lives. The ability to have such willpower has largely lost its appeal in our modern society where instant gratification is the norm.
So where does willpower have importance? Well, one key element of willpower is the ability to manage one’s thoughts and control behaviours that you might later regret. These are key elements of emotional intelligence as well. The ability to avoid impulsive behaviour by understanding the thoughts and feelings that lead up to it, is extremely powerful. People often do not recognize the triggers that cause them to give into impulses that they later regret. However, they can learn how to not only recognize the triggers but also to plan strategies in advance to avoid the impulsive behaviour. This takes practice and can also be helped by working with a professional who can assist with uncovering the clues and following up with the client on successes and challenges.
Anyhow, as we go into a New Year, think of one impulsive habit that you would like to change. Next time you feel it coming on, notice what triggers it and the resulting feelings that you usually respond to. See if you can observe instead of acting.
Here is a link that expands on this topic. http://www.faceoff.com/marshmallow+principle/5787154/story.html
Happy New Year!