Half of you have below-average self control.*
But while this is quite obvious, the implications are huge.
It means that at least half of you will have trouble doing the unpleasant things that you know you should do—to stay fit and healthy, do better at work, save money for your goals (buying a house, having a nice vacation), and so on.
Those of us with average (or below-average) self control are at a big disadvantage in life. At least that’s what research done over the last few decades has shown.
This makes sense.
Who would you expect to lose more weight: A person who diligently refuses to have that amazing looking piece of chocolate cake, or the person who defiantly declares “YOLO” and goes to town on said dessert?
Who would you expect to start a successful side-business: the person easily seduced by the new season of House of Cards on Netflix, or the person who locks away the TV remote for the weekend and grinds through the legal paperwork needed to set up a new Limited Liability Company (LLC)?
And it gets worse…
Not only are those with higher self control much more likely to be successful, but they have more fun, too.
At least that’s what a new body of research from Roy Baumeister, Angela Duckworth, and Kathleen Vohs says.
In six studies, they measured the self control of people from 5th grade through college and looked to see whether or not those who were rated as having low self control (which they determined through self report, third-party report, and behavioral tasks) also reported lower “subjective well being” (an awesome, nerdy term for happiness & fulfillment).
What did they find?
Instead of finding an inverse “U” curve (in which those at both extremes suffered), they saw that self control and “subjective well-being” had a nice, linear relationship.
In other words: the higher the self control the higher the reported happiness.
So it doesn’t look like there’s any downside to having particularly powerful self restraint.
Darn! I was hoping that those people who can say no to dessert and Netflix would at leasthave a bit less fun… but that’s doesn’t seem to be the case.
“Self-control lies at the center of current public policy debates (Moffitt et al., 2011). There are wide-scale programs being designed to help improve self-control among the masses as it has been shown to lead to several beneficial outcomes (de Ridder et al., 2012). Yet, some remain concerned that too much self-control can have detrimental consequences (Grant & Schwartz, 2011). The present investigation did not find evidence suggesting detrimental consequences with respect to SWB. Instead, the more self-control people have, the happier they will be. There may be no such thing as too much self-control – at least for happiness.”
Not only do those with higher self control achieve more in life, but they have more fun, too!
So what does this mean for the rest of us?
Does it mean that we’ll be less successful, and struggle mightily (while having less fun) in our quest for beach bodies and riches?
For the past couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time swimming around in the personality psychology literature.
While a lot of it is a bit dubious, there’s some really good (and actionable) stuff out there.
The key message that shines forth from the field is that there is no such thing as a bad personality. If there was, you would have expected evolution to weed it out of existence.
Why is that? Think of it this way. If a mixture of personality traits was just… bad, maladaptive, it would be out-competed by all of the “better” personalities out there.
In addition, if one mixture of personality traits was just better in every way than all others, then those people would have had a significant advantage over everyone else… and they would have outcompeted everyone else over the vast timespans of evolution. It would be ubiquitous today
But that’s not what we see—at all.
Even though personality is highly heritable, you see a great degree of diversity. This implies that there’s no such thing as a *universally* better personality. Each one carries both costs and advantages, and will be more or less suited for different environments.
So while it may be advantageous to be quite social (extraverted) if you’re a salesperson or a nurse, you probably will be at a disadvantage if you decide to go down a more solitary, desk-ridden route (computer programming or data science, for example). Those jobs favor those who are OK without much social stimulation.
While this is a quite obvious example, the same thing can be seen across all personality traits. Even something that seems unambiguously bad, like high neuroticism, can actually be a gift in certain contexts. For example, neuroticism is correlated with competitiveness and academic achievement. So it seems like the negative/aggressive emotions that are higher in those with high neuroticism can be used to fuel positive achievement…
Based on everything I’ve just said, it’s clear that the path towards success relies on:
- Having an accurate picture of your unique personality
- Choosing the best environments/contexts for yourself—based on your unique personality
- Strategically using your unique strengths to achieve your goals (and work around your weaknesses)
And this is exactly what I’ve been developing over the last few months: a personalized report that will give you an in-depth understanding of your personality, and provide you with specific recommendations for whatever habit or goal you have as your top priority right now.
In the report, you’ll learn:
- How you compare to others across every personality trait
- Where your personality is weak and where it’s strong
- The aspects of your personality that are likely going to bring you trouble… and strategies you can use to minimize the damage
- The three key things you need to do in order to use your personality to accomplish one of your current goals
- General principles you should follow, no matter what goal you have in mind, to have a better chance of succeeding
I’ve had a couple of test groups (one that came from this list), and the feedback has been pretty great…
“Jason’s assessment was super helpful for me currently because I wasn’t aware of how much my agreeableness affects my ability to get the stuff I want to do most done. It helped me realize that I have to make a priority on certain things and make them sacred due to my tendency to let them slide to take care of other, more menial tasks.”
“Fantastic tool and very tailored to what will work with one’s personality. As a coach, I can see using this with my clients to increase their likelihood to build and maintain habits! Look forward to using it in my practice.”
And now I’m going to let some of you purchase the same, personalized report.
Here’s what you’ll get:
- A 14 page “Habit Blueprint” report (PDF), which contains:
- Your test results across the five primary personality traits
- Your test results for the sub-components of each of the personality traits
- A habit pledge (which you will sign and send to me, so I can keep you accountable)
- The “three things you need to do” to get what you want right now, based on your personality
- “Five general principles” you need to abide by to be as successful as possible (based on your personality) with your goals
These reports actually take a bit of time for me to create, so they cost $297 a piece. To order yours, please click here.