We all have at least one negative personality trait. Mine is impulsivity. It’s not my only negative personality trait, but it’s definitely the one that gets me in the most trouble. Impulsivity rears its ugly head in many different scenarios. From shopping to speaking, impulsivity can be a nightmare if left unchecked.
So what is impulsivity, and what does it look like? Impulsivity is doing something without thinking about it beforehand. Picture this, you’re at the store to buy groceries and a delicious cake catches your eye. It’s not on your list, but you buy it anyway. That’s impulsive. Or, you’re having dinner with some friends and you blurt something out that maybe you shouldn’t have…that’s impulsive.
Impulsivity can get you in a lot of trouble. Its left many people bankrupt, divorced, and unemployed. So, the real question is, how do you prevent yourself from becoming a statistic when you know you’re naturally impulsive? Ironically, for me the answer is actually planning. Yes, you heard that right. I know that I’m impulsive so I plan for it. If you have a plan in place of how you will handle a situation prior to it coming up than you’re less likely to make a poor impulsive decision.
For example, I’m an impulsive shopper. I buy things on a whim. It’s a problem. I can’t count how much I’ve spent on new projects that seem like a great idea at the time that I never complete. It’s not just projects either. I do this with clothes, too. My closet is full of clothes that I’ve never worn. They either don’t fit well and I buy them with the intention of getting them tailored or I just don’t have anywhere to actually wear it.
Now that you have a better understanding on what impulsivity is and what it looks like, let’s delve into how to control it.
10 Tips Minimize Impulsive Behaviors
- The 24 hour rule. This is my go to rule for shopping online. I do most of my clothes shopping online, and I do it mostly when I’m trying to pass time or I’m procrastinating. Every once in a while, I have to shop for something specific. In those cases this rule doesn’t apply. However, since that’s not the typical online shopping situation for me, my general rule is if I see something I like, I put in my cart. I then exit out of the website all together. If after 24 hours I still want it, then I allow myself to buy it. Usually what happens is the initial thrill of buying it has worn off and I no longer want it.
- Online grocery shopping. This works wonders for me, especially for things that I need to buy from Target. Target is one of those places I can easily spend several hundred dollars without even realizing it until I’m paying for it. However, the one good thing that’s come out of this pandemic is curbside pick-up. Prior to the pandemic, I would go into Target for one thing and come out with a whole cart full of cute kids clothes, crafts, toys and everything else my kids asked for. Now, I just type in what I need and add it to my cart, wait until my order is ready, then go pick it up. Much better!
- Shop with a list. For stores that I either can’t do curbside pickup, or prefer to do it myself because I need produce, I shop with a list. This one isn’t perfect for me. I try to stick to my list, but if I have a kid with me, then I always end up buying at least 1 thing that’s not on my list. However, I will say shopping with a list definitely cuts down on impulsive buys.
- Try to shop at “no frill” stores. By this I mean I try to steer clear of grocery stores that have all of the extras like salad bars and a zillion different options for everything. Not only is every product marked up to cover the cost of all of those extras that I don’t want anyway, but I’m also more likely to buy things I wasn’t planning on because there are simply more choices available. So, I stick to Sam’s Club, Aldi’s, Trader Joe’s and Target. If those stores don’t have everything I need, then I go to Schnucks.
- I only speak if I have something useful to say. So, before I say something I make sure that it’s contributory, polite, and true. Part of this is because I am shy, but it also prevents me from blurting something out that I may regret later.
- I limit how much I drink. Not only does drinking too much make you look bad, but you’re also more likely to say something you normally would not have said if you were sober. So, for those reasons, I’m very mindful of how much I drink.
- I don’t eat out often. This one helps more with impulsive eating. Restaurants in the US notoriously serve huge portions. It’s way too easy to overeat when you have that much food sitting on your plate. Especially if you’re drinking alcohol at the same time.
- When I do eat out, I try to order something light. The better something tastes, the more likely I am to impulsively overeat.
- Use a debit card instead of a credit card. This one I’ll admit that I don’t do anymore. However, it definitely does help keep your spending in check. It’s a lot easier to swipe a credit card without thinking than it is a debit card.
- If you have a rewards card, only use the rewards if you’re already planning on buying something. Don’t buy something just because you have rewards. If the rewards expire before you’re planning on buying something, then take a cue from Elsa and let it go.