Monday, December 12, 2011
I just finished a great book by Stuart Vyse called "Going Broke". It is an economic and sociological discussion about why we spend, but also discusses why we succumb to any temptation. He talks about what we want in the immediate future vs what we want long term: the car now vs comfortable retirement, the drink now vs sobriety, or the food now vs long term weight loss. He says that surveys about why we do what we do don't work because you are talking to people when they aren't immediately confronted by temptation. Some people either inherently have or have developed not so much self control, but a desire for a long term goal that exceeds the pull of immediate temptation. There are some who want to ban credit cards or fast food outlets so that they are never confronted with temptation, and there are people who create temptation free zones: they don't have credit cards, they never keep snack foods in the house. Americans value total freedom of choice, but in the end are confounded by it, and allow themselves to partake simply because it's there.
I, for one, tend to allow myself to think that I am giving up so much for one long term goal that I should be able to postpone the realities of achieving another long term goal. It isn't so much self-control (I still don't know what that actually IS) but I have developed mantras and methods to keep my eyes focused on my long term goals, trying not to confuse one goal with another. I mean one order of french fries won't impact my savings, but it WILL impact another goal. Over the years and decades, they are ALL important to me. I just need to make sure they are important at that one brief moment of choice.