3 Exercises for Your Self-Control Muscle

In Monday’s post, Anna shares John Piper’s acronym, A.P.T.A.T. which stands for Admit, Pray, Trust, Act, Thank. Did you notice that 4 out of 5 of those steps are all about relying on the Lord? We have our part to do as well: act.  Too often in the midst of a difficult situation, I sit there in defeat and say, “Lord, I just can’t” when what I actually need is to learn how to improve my level of self control. 

When I was a young professional, I had my own ways to handle money but I really had no plan. I lived on hope. I hoped I would have money at the end of the month. I even used birthday money for groceries one month, which did not please my mom who wrote the check. ? Since completing Dave Ramsey’s money management program, Financial Peace University in 2007, I have never gone back to my “no plan” plan again. 

Now that I’m a mom, I can model that self-control for my children, whether it’s with money or food or shopping. I say out loud, “No I’m not buying that for you. It’s not in our budget.” I’m grateful to impart that knowledge in the early years. Of course as preschoolers, they hear “no” throughout the day. Gradually they will come to understand, Oh, Mommy is telling herself no (to that donut or a 3rd pair of yoga pants) for a reason. Yes, it may take years for them to verbalize this realization but it’s still worth the extra effort now. 

In his book, The Motivation Myth, Jeff Haden offers up these suggestions to strengthen the self control bicep: 


  • Focus on the process. ? Focus only on regular, tiny adjustments. Forget the big goal. 
  • Develop small wins. ? While working on our debt, we were advised to get rid of the smallest debt first. That does not make sense financially but it does build the motivation to persevere with the process. 
  • Need less self control? Eliminate areas of temptation. 


If you want to improve your financial health, check out Dave Ramsey’s site to find an FPU class near you. ?