As young professionals, we are essentially two very separate things: young and professional. Navigating life in such a role can oftentimes be a challenging balancing act between our wants and our needs. To some degree, we all have that devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other, influencing us in our decision-making. As we transition from young adults into successful professionals, however, it is important to develop that key skill of impulse control in order to deny that little devil. Planning ahead, considering consequences, and sticking to your word are signs of maturity and are important factors in success. If you find yourself still backing out of commitments, making negative decisions in the heat of the moment, and often proclaiming “ah, f*ck it” like we did in our younger years, then you may be projecting an undesirable image of impulsiveness and, subsequently, immaturity.
Don’t neglect your “tomorrow self”
We all like to have fun, and we all know that spontaneous fun is often the best. But some activities that we YPs like to engage in can leave us feeling bad about ourselves for a variety of reasons. If you know that staying out that extra hour will make you sluggish for your early morning meeting, that another round of shots will make you skip tomorrow’s workout, that hooking up with that random will leave you feeling like crap in the awkward a.m., or that you outright shouldn’t buy that expensive item – why keep doing it? We continue to give in to our impulsive desires because…it’s fun! At least for the moment. Again, because we are in this unique position between young and care-free, and mature and serious, we get urges from both sides.
For YPs, our best bet is to name a time and place for such fun. In a past Notable article we discussed how to plan your hangover in order to avoid those awful post-party guilts. This tactic works by overcoming impulsive decisions by taking control and planning ahead. The key in such a strategy is to then stick to your word. Don’t screw your tomorrow self by going out for a “few beers” on a Tuesday, but then giving in and making it a big, regrettable night. Your mature Wednesday morning self will hate you, and you really need them on your side.
It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change
How many times have you woken up from a night of impulsive fun and proclaimed, “I’m never doing that again”? We then swear to ourselves to never drink that much, eat that crappy, stay up that late, or hook up with that person, ever again. Sure, this might last a week, a month, but eventually we forget that awful morning feeling and dive right back in to our self-satisfying ways. This routine is common amongst YPs because, like trying to adhere to a strict diet, abstinence just does not work for most people. This is where the all-important idea of balance comes in. Learning to consider your tomorrow self, to make better decisions, and to take hold of our impulses, doesn’t have to equal a complete denouncement of all things naughty. Like learning to eat healthy, it’s about making a lifestyle change; one that allows for a little cheat here and there. There is nothing wrong with going for drinks, getting a little tipsy, having a fun fling, splurging on a designer product, or enjoying a Big Mac…once in a while.
It’s not all about you
Overall, living impulsively is nothing more than a sign of self-centeredness stemming from immaturity. You want to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, and with whomever you want to do it with. Just reading that, doesn’t it sound like a whiney kid? If what you really want is to portray an image of maturity, reliability, and professionalism, then learning to control impulses by considering how your decisions will affect others, sticking to your word, and making your job and health as important as having fun, will all help in creating that successful YP image.
Photo courtesy thehungryandfoolish.com