Equipped with excellent grades and an MBA from a leading business school, Tim got a job in his dream company. Before joining, he imagined a dazzling corporate life for himself, delivering mega presentations, winning awards, and doing things that business leaders in TV shows and movies did.

However, once he joined, he was told to sit in a tiny cubicle and work with the local management as a marketing assistant. After working zealously for a couple of months, he felt demotivated as his job was far from what he had imagined.

There can be many situations that could demotivate you at your workplace such as dissatisfaction with your job profile, your pay scale, or even your boss.

If such situations make you want to give up, then take a break to analyze whether it’s one of the reasons mentioned above or your own impatience that is hurting you.

Such situations might make you feel that you have no self-control or that you have lost the ability to focus on your goals.

We will tell you what self-control is and what you can do to improve it so that you remain focused on your goals.

What is self-control?

The definition of self-control clearly outlines it as the ability to control one’s emotions and desires during challenging situations so that one remains focused on their goals.

Suppose you want to bag a high-value project from a client. However, it is not coming through because of the lack of urgency from the client and procedural delays. Eventually, you start doubting the client’s intentions. Your patience runs out just when the client is about to expedite things. Ultimately, you lose the coveted project due to your own impatience.

To avoid such situations, it is important to identify the signs of impatience and apply self-control techniques to overcome them.

Identifying the signs of impatience

When faced with stress, stay alert to any thoughts that breed frustration or disappointment.

For instance, when you are stuck in a traffic jam, you might think, “This has ruined my day” or “This commute to work is terrible”. At the office, you might be unwilling to bear the sight of a colleague and be tempted to think, “He is such an irritating person”.

Such thoughts of annoyance are often accompanied by physical symptoms similar to those experienced when you get angry. Some of the most common signs are:

  • Feeling restless
  • Muscle tension
  • Clenching of fists or teeth
  • Faster breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Feeling anger or discomfort

Identifying the triggers of impatience

Instead of focusing on what is frustrating you in the short term, pay attention to resolving the main problem. Here are some triggers that can make you impatient or lose self-control.

  1. Situations going wrong: It is usual for things to not pan out the way you wanted them to. For instance, you may get delayed for a much-awaited sporting event due to a traffic jam, or worse, the event may get canceled due to rain. Such incidents can cause great disappointment, frustration, and anger.
  2. People behaving in undesirable ways: It is normal for us to get impatient when someone doesn’t behave the way we expect them to or works at a pace that slows us down. We’ve all experienced the frustration of being stuck in a queue at the grocery store behind someone who seems to be taking forever at the counter.
  3. Frustration at your own failure: At times, you might get frustrated with yourself. For instance, you might be desperately trying to learn a new skill, but even after repeated attempts, you are not able to master it fast enough.
  4. Inability to master thoughts: Sometimes our lack of control over our own thoughts and emotions can cause impatience. Even when one realizes that there is no way to prevent such things, one is unable to restrain their irritation-inducing thoughts and gets frustrated.

How to master self-control

Here are some tools to master self-control and  activities you can integrate into your daily routine to regain self-control:

  • Soak in your surroundings: Small and seemingly insignificant actions can cumulatively help in eliminating impatience. When you notice symptoms of impatience, divert your focus to activities that give you sensory pleasure. For instance, you can focus on how your feet feel when you stand on the floor. Any other mind diversion tactics such as closing your eyes and imagining the things that make you happy can also be constructive.
  • Deep breathing: Closing your eyes and focusing on your breath can be a great stress-reliever. Take a deep breath, right to the point where you feel the air enter your lungs and belly, and hold it there for a second before slowly exhaling. Repeat this five times and you will notice a significant lowering of your stress.
  • Change your perspective: Practice changing your perspective about issues that affect your mental peace. Try to think differently, and put yourself in others’ shoes to understand their situation and mindset. This may lead you to obvious resolutions that you didn’t notice earlier.
  • Write a journal: Maintain a notebook or a journal documenting all instances when you experience impatience. Note the day, time, cause, and outcome of the feeling. Also, document its impact on your physical and emotional wellness. This will also help you identify if you are being impatient because of your own actions, such as addiction to social media.
  • Set realistic expectations: One of the leading causes of impatience is setting up impractical or extremely ambitious goals. When we set unattainable goals for ourselves, we invariably fall short of them. This breeds the feeling that progress is not happening or we are underperforming. For instance, you might resolve to lose weight and get fitter. But if you set an unrealistic goal and fall short of it you may feel demotivated. You may also ignore the fact that the weight you have lost is good progress under normal circumstances. So set realistic and sustainable goals and strive for continuous improvement over the longer term.
  • Eat healthily and exercise: Eating a nutritious and balanced diet that provides adequate proteins, vitamins, and other nutrients is essential. It is well known that an unhealthy body finds it difficult to think healthy thoughts. Exercise serves as a positive outlet for pent-up negativity, anger, or frustration. By exercising regularly, we can get rid of negative vibes and become physically as well as emotionally stronger. This strength is of utmost importance in maintaining self-control.


It is essential to have self-control when you are pursuing excellence. Apart from the measures explained above, having faith in your abilities and putting in effort persistently is critical. You must also feel grateful for the skills you have. Being grateful will help you appreciate life and have a balanced and practical outlook towards it. Impatience often leads to giving up when all you need to do is keep making efforts.

Harappa Education’s Leading Self course helps learners inculcate the value of self-control. It includes various lessons and self-control methodologies such as the Balcony and Dance Floor technique. By going through this course, you can get an in-depth understanding of self-control.

Explore our Harappa Diaries section to know more about topics related to the Lead habit such as emotional intelligence, resilience, and anger management.

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