The Holidays are bad for waist lines.

We gather with family and feast on large amounts of food. Indulging our desires at the end of the year, while vaguely planning restraint for the beginning of January.

As I joined my family at my parent’s house for Christmas, one of these indulgences faced me head on. A little bowl of chocolate candy sat on the dinning room table; in plain view, with no guards or barriers. I think I took my first piece 10 minutes after I arrived. A few hours into our visit I put up firm protests.

“Mom, this bowl of chocolate has got to go. I have already eaten like 10 pieces!”

She laughed, but made no efforts to remove, destroy or incinerate the chocolate.

I Can’t Resist

Over the next three days, as expected, I casually floated by the table sneaking another piece (or two) every couple hours.

My initial thought was “Come on Sawyer, you have no self-control.”

And yes, in one sense that is true. But this low-stakes example (thankfully my pants still fit) made me think about other areas of my life. And what exactly does self-control look like.

Is self-control about staring temptation in its face saying “no”?

For some people and situations, that might be what it takes. But if that’s what it means, than I have very little.

The majority of us need to think about self-control differently. You don’t have to have the raw grit and determination to endure obvious and available temptation.

I Can Remove

Self-control often looks like removing you or the temptation from the equation.

A couple months ago I went on a business trip to Washington DC. The nature of the trip meant I would spend a couple days working out of my hotel room in between events at the beginning and end of the trip. I had plenty of work to complete, but I also knew hotels rooms with a big beautiful TV would distract me. I could grit it out, and try to restrain from turning it on but I knew I would fail. So I called the hotel and asked them to remove the TV remove control from my room before I arrived.

Self-control doesn’t always mean you must endure temptations to it’s face.

A daily struggle for most people at work is remaining focused. The internet is a treasure trove of distraction. Rather than pushing yourself to focus and not click over to social media, why not remove the option? History shows us that you will fail most of the time. Use a website blocker like Cold Turkey to removing even the option of temptation.

It is not weak to flee. 

When I strive to endure a temptation, that’s when I eventually succumb. Like the bowl of chocolates. But strength and freedom come from fleeing temptations.

It’s time we rethink how we evaluate self-control.

If you have the courage to flee, than you do indeed have self-control.

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