The trick is to find a good balance between self restraint and spontaneity. However, most of us tend to tip one way more than the other, on the scale of impulsiveness.
So, are you more impulsive, or do you have more self-discipline?
There are benefits of what is called functional impulsivity. The functional (that is good) impulsive can quickly take advantage of unexpected opportunities. They can rapidly put their thoughts into words. They can think on their feet. They are mentally agile. But, they need someone to temper their enthusiasm, to consider consequences, to plan ahead and to keep persisting in the face of failure or setback.
So it’s a trade-off. A bright impulsive person in fast moving products can be an advantage. But impulsivity like all human characteristics (save handedness), is normally distributed in a bell-curve. Most of us have moderate impulsivity. So it’s not a case of all or nothing. To be on the high side of the impulsivity spectrum brings its advantages and disadvantages. The adventurous, active, enthusiastic impulsive can bring dynamism to any group. But the disorderly, anti-analytic, planless impulsive can lead any well thought-through plan to doom and destruction.
What about self-discipline?
Self-discipline is the ability to delay immediate, short-term gratification in favor of a long-term benefit. It is the ability to do what you know you must do, whether you feel like it or not. It is the ability to manage your emotions and resist your temptations so that you can work on what truly matters.
The greatest achievements are the result of prolonged effort and perseverance and self-discipline is the driving engine of such an effort. Without self-discipline, it is virtually impossible to stick to long-term goals and commitments.
Below you will find a list of statements with two options, A or B. Choose the one that best applies to you, and remember or write your answers down. At the end you will read your results.
My trips tend to be:
a- Planned ahead
b- Spur of the moment
I more often:
a- Stick to budget
b- Spend more than I earn
Watching performances, I usually feel:
In general, my thoughts are:
I tend to:
a- Live in the moment
b- Plan for the future
Now, lets look at your score. Tally up your results and see if you have more A’s or more B’s.
Mainly A’s may suggest a tendency towards more self-restraint,
Mainly B’s is an inclination towards greater impulsiveness.
Homer heaped praise on the self-disciplined: ‘How prone to doubt, how cautious are the wise’. By contrast, Abraham Maslow saw spontaneity as integral to the ‘peak experiences’ of the self-actualised. Without heed for consequences, however, impulsiveness can be problematic.