Willpower and Smart Decision Making

In this episode of Learn Share Grow I take you through a concept called Moral Licensing (which can often sabotage our efforts without us even knowing).  We cover 'tomorrow based thinking' and then also speak about what is called the 'Halo Effect'. Sneak Peak: Those who buy chocolate for charity end up eating more...not so good if your goal is to lose weight.

Learn how to avoid these mistakes and flex the willpower muscle with these easy to follow and actionable strategies.


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Full Transcription Below:

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Learn Share Grow live with Hayden Wilson. This is Episode 8 and today on the show we’re going to be talking all about willpower and I want to take you through 3 things that are going to effect the decisions that you make in your life, and I’m going to provide a couple of strategies around that to mitigate the damage that it makes and just give you a bit more awareness on why you are making certain decisions so we can start to plan around that.

The first principle that I want to outline to you is what scientists have called moral licensing – so let’s get the zooming going here – so what the moral licensing is, as you see a little picture of a devil and a little angel man is when we do something good it gives us the perception that just because we’ve been good that we can perhaps start to do something that is rewarding to us which is quite damaging if we’re potentially trying to be on a diet or if we’re trying to save money, and we’re trying to do the right thing but all of a sudden we have a mishap and it doesn’t work out well for us.

So what we’ve got is, scientists have found that those who stop shopping and restrict themselves during a shopping process say when they’re buying clothes, end up eating more later. You’ve got the extra work hours at work and then what they found is that tends to increase the spending on the company credit card.

This is called moral licensing because they are licensing themselves to benefit themselves later on because of all the hard work they’ve done previously. In order to fix this moral licensing dilemma there’s a couple of things that we want to go past.

The first thing is I want you to be aware of when you’re making decisions, who you’re trying to please. Is it internal or is it external? Are you trying to please yourself who wants to reach your goals or are you trying to please your immediate self, your immediate gratification?

To do this, we must always remember our why – why are we doing it? And it always comes back to that – I’m going to speak a lot about the why and I already have in the previous couple of episodes on willpower but it’s such a bit underlying factor that we always need to know why we’re doing something because that gives us long term benefits as opposed to trying to get that immediate gratification.

The second thing I want to share with you is to focus on your progress rather than the completion of the smaller tasks. So you may have the feeling to reward yourself for doing something small and having a small win, but what you need to do is realise that this is just one small step in the bigger process. So be aware that just because you do something good doesn’t mean that you can blow your entire food budget, or maybe your monetary budget – just be aware.

The second theory that I want to present to you is what they call ‘tomorrow based thinking’, or not they, I actually believe that I have presented this. Tomorrow based thinking is a theory where you perceive your tomorrow’s self as a better, much better citizen, you think that you’re going to save more money, you think you’re going to be more productive, it’s this whole that that your tomorrow is going to be a better person, and what you need to realise is it’s not, and planning your time effectively is one of the strategies we’re going to go through.

But, you don’t have more time tomorrow and you won’t have more energy tomorrow – that’s all just in the perception of your mind.

To fix tomorrow based thinking you want to think of a strategy that has worked really well for smokers is, if I want to continue smoking I have to match the amount of smokes I smoke today.So if on one day you smoked 10 cigarettes, by the time you think about having your 11th, you think well, can I match this tomorrow because that’s the consequences of my actions.

So then you start thinking more longer term and all of a sudden it’s not just one more extra cigarette, it’s one more cigarette for every day of my life beyond this. And that’s worked really well for a bunch of different habits, including alcohol – that kind of thing, spending. Another thing that you can do is set time based rewards.

One particular story was where a man ate a lot of meat, a large amount of protein and animal fats, salmon steaks, all that stuff right, chicken – and he realised having all this bacon and saturated fats – even though animal fats in regular doses can be good for you – but he was eating just much too much and he knew.

What he did, was instead of banning himself and if he had a meaty dish for breakfast, instead of telling himself this was a bad day and screwing up the entire day, he started implementing a strategy where he would eat vegetarian until 6 o’clock and then beyond 6 o’clock he could eat whatever he wants. So this could apply in your life if you’re deep into eating a high simple carbohydrate diet or eating a lot of simple sugars. What you want to do, is tell yourself that between when you wake up and say 5 o’clock, you’re going to eat clean, or eat a certain way, then beyond 5 o’clock you can start to implement and reward yourself based on a time based metric.

The third thing that I want to present to you here today is what they call the halo effect.

The halo effect is you making skewed choices because of the initial choice that you’ve made and what they’ve found with this in particular, is choosing a healthy main is perceived as healthy and the consequences of this decision is it raises how much dessert you’ll eat, it raises that you’ll order extra drinks and it raises that you will order more side dishes.

So what else can it be applied to? They’ve found that when you order a cheese burger and a salad, people perceive that by having the salad on top of the burger, it’s actually less calories. Don’t ask me how it works, but this is what they found from the footage or from the research. So it was actually about 100 calories less because they added a salad because they perceived that it was healthier, you know, I’m making an unhealthy decision with the burger but the halo effect tells me I’m doing a good thing by ordering the salad.

Another example is when we buy chocolate for charity we end up eating more ourselves We think we’re doing a good thing by buying it for charity but if you’re trying to give up chocolate it’s a very bad idea because you end up eating more yourself.

To fix the halo effect we need to be aware of – I call the marketing strategies that businesses are putting out there – so in the nineties we saw a lot of fat free things and that ended up with a large over indulgence of non-fat foods, but what they did, they replaced that with carbohydrates – so we need to be aware of the trends that are happening within our market place. A huge one right now is the organic, or the gluten free epidemic I’ll call it.

Because a lot of people believe that just because something is gluten free that they can all of a sudden, over indulge and because of a misunderstanding with what gluten actually is, for some reason they think that it’s sugar free and so it’s an over indulgence of calories.

The second strategy that you can implement is to set a limit and stick to it. So don’t get addicted to buying that extra amount and even though, just say you’re trying to save money, it sounds like a great discount, to be able to get 2 for 1, or you might see at the end of your receipt after you guy groceries, you’ve saved $62.

So you feel good for saving the money, but this is money that if you’d set yourself a budget, you weren’t supposed to spend anyway. So just being aware is the main thing I want you to concentrate on as you go through this week.

Three things to remember here as we wrap up this video quite quickly, is no. 1 – I’ve been harping on it all video – be aware, a good deed doesn’t equal a reward. Make sure you understand your why and start thinking longer term.

The second thing I want you to do is practice being realistic with your time. When we go back into the tomorrow based thinking be aware that your tomorrow’s self is going to be no different so start allocating time blocks to various parts of your life and understanding that we’re all human, we can get this much done today and this much done tomorrow, as opposed to trying to stack an entire module of things on the next day and procrastinating in the current day.

The third thing is, don’t justify your poor decisions – just be aware of why you’re doing it.

If there are any questions, chuck them in the comments box there, otherwise jump over to haydenwilson.com.au/lsg and you can see all the videos from this week and all the videos from last week.

I’m going to be sharing a bunch of resources at the end of the week and I’ve got a big surprise on Friday so I hope you join me then.

Any questions please email them to me here.