Self-regulation means taking responsibility for and following through with how you organise yourself and your life in accordance with your values and your aspirations. When you feel that you have a plan in place and the tools necessary to do the things that you need to do, execution and commitment will be required to complete the task, achieve the goal, or enact the change that you believe is important. Self-regulation, therefore, is the ability to do what you say you will do and stick to it.
As you learn, live, lead and work on our journey of exploration, encounter and discovery, you will need to think about how you will respond to your inner drive and the expectations of those around you. Your contribution will be measured in terms of the high standards that you uphold. You will need to stay true to your own values and those of your community while also improving the lives of others and getting the job done.
Ensuring that values are upheld while value is created in your planning and project management starts with your self-belief. You need to have confidence in your self-efficacy (how you organise yourself to get the job done) and your adaptive expertise (your capacity to move with change to achieve what you set out to do) before you get started. You will need to look at the markers of your past performance, your willingness to put your purpose into practice, and the character, competencies and wellness you have that underpin this.
Your self-regulation will also need to set an example for those around you. Your ability to achieve things in the right way and with respect for people and place and planet will help those around you to be the same. It will also reinforce in their minds the methods that are most likely to work to this end. You should, therefore, communicate widely about your belief that “we” can do it while we reflect on how we are going to do it.
"The biggest challenge to self-control is emotional regulation. Successful people know how to make their emotions their servants rather than their masters."
Paul TP Wong
Self-regulation relies as much on your ability to manage your time as it does your ability to manage yourself. Whether your parameters are set by you or by someone or something else, all of your goals, projects and tasks have due dates which define the limitations of your timeline. You need to plan and work within these boundaries. You need to identify what needs to be done, in what order you need to do it, and what information and resources you will need. You need to allocate each piece of work to a specific period of time so that tasks match time. This will allow you to define your scope and sequence.
And then you need to get stuck into the work and get it done!
Building a track record of commitment to the goal and execution of the plan will help you to develop the sense of mastery, autonomy, and purpose you need to remain motivated along the way. You then need to track and evaluate your progress, record the achievement of your milestones, and reward yourself appropriately along the way. If you play to your strengths, you can build your capacity to adhere to the task at hand. This process – regardless of which area of your life you found yourself using it for – will require you to make temporary sacrifices for long-term reward.
This is where self-control and judgment come into play. You need to recognise when you are doing good work and when you are not. You need to hold yourself accountable to the process you have designed. You need to understand which of your behaviours are helping you move forward and do more of them. Likewise, you need to identify which behaviours are holding you back and try to cut them out altogether. You also need to be able to regulate your emotions in the light of this experience so that you can promote positive behaviours and delay the impulse to act on less productive behaviours.
Leaning into the resources you have around you is also important. You should bring in other people to support you with your plan. If you give them an idea of your process and goals, you can create a means for supervision and external accountability that can help you to build good habits. Good habits in time will help you to shape your own internal motivation – this will be the most powerful driver of your self-regulation in the long run. The more disciplined you are, the better you will feel about yourself and the more likely you will be to keep running towards the prize. Ask yourself the following questions:
In the end, self-regulation is about knowing how you learn. It's about recognising your emotions and responding constructively to them. It’s about the self-awareness and self-mastery needed to postpone instant pleasure in the pursuit of a longer-term objective. Are you ready to make a difference? Let’s go!