Desire has a strong tendency to ebb and flow like the tide. When the impulse you need to control is strong, waiting out this wave of desire is usually enough to keep yourself in control. The rule of thumb here is to wait at least 10 minutes before succumbing to temptation. You’ll often find that the great wave of desire is now little more than a ripple that you have the power to step right over.
Rather than responding to immediate impulses, we can plan, evaluate alternative actions, and, often enough, avoid doing things we’ll later regret. The ability to exert self-control is typically called willpower. It is what allows us to direct our attention, and it underlies all kinds of achievement.
Decide in advance what you will think about when a thought about smoking, snacking, or hitting “redial” pops into your head. When you find yourself thinking about how yummy a candy bar would be right now, try replacing that thought with one that focuses on your health and weight-loss goals (e.g., “It feels better to fit into my jeans than it does to wolf down chocolate-covered nougat”), as told by Psychology today.