Reflecting on Self-Control in Shadow of Tall Expectations

In the cycle of life as you reach that magic age of ‘retirement’, focusing on self-control shifts to maintenance and longevity. It continues to be akin to possessing a superpower. It empowers us to make better choices, pursue our goals, and navigate life’s challenges as the “old man” with finesse. But how do we cultivate and refine this invaluable skill?

In this article, we’re embarking on a journey to identify 21 activities that will help you sharpen and strengthen your self-control muscles. Whether you’re shrugging your shoulders and wondering ‘why’ into procrastinating, conquering bad habits, or simply becoming the best version of yourself, these practical activities are your roadmap to personal growth and success. So, buckle up, and let’s dive into the world of self-control refinement!

Self Awareness

Developing self-control is a multifaceted journey that often begins with a single, foundational skill: self-awareness. Self-awareness involves recognizing and understanding your own thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and triggers. It is the cornerstone upon which you can build greater self-control. Here are a few reasons why self-awareness is so vital.

A Process for Success

In our pursuit of personal growth and self-control, it’s essential to shift our focus from merely setting individual goals to developing a well-defined process. Successful motivators understand that having a clear sense of purpose and an established process can be more effective in achieving multiple goals. This process-oriented approach keeps us focused and resilient, helping us resist distractions and impulsive behaviors that might otherwise derail our progress. By concentrating on refining our process, we not only enhance our self-control but also increase our chances of attaining the numerous goals we aspire to achieve.

Practice Mindful Awareness

Mindful awareness is a helpful practice of improving self-control by being fully present in your situation. Instead of knee-jerk reactions based on what’s in it for you, make a hard stop. Begin stepping away in your mind observing thoughts and emotions without judgment. Regular engagement in mindful awareness leads to a deeper understanding of the avenues your brain takes, enabling better regulation of emotions and responses. Practicing this cultivates the ability to impartially observe thoughts and possibly prevent impulsive reactions based on immediate emotions.

And if you’re willing to lose making your point and really try to understand your internal need to be right, you can gain a real sense of self-control. Imagine the ability to control sensitivity to triggers, impulses, and emotional reactions Consider the benefits of how this can act as a guiding compass for making deliberate choices and exercising discipline in various life aspects. By incorporating mindful awareness into your daily routine, you can significantly elevate your self-control, providing a mental sanctuary for reflection and equipping yourself with resilience and composure in the face of life’s challenges. As this skill develops, you’ll find it invaluable for mastering self-control in both ordinary and extraordinary situations.

Develop Discipline

Developing discipline is a fundamental aspect of enhancing self-control. Discipline involves cultivating the ability to stick to a structured plan or routine, even when faced with distractions or temptations.

Jocko Willink, former Navy Seal, is a big proponent of discipline and equates it to freedom. Jocko says, “…the only way to get to a place of freedom is through discipline” That is profound.

Discipline for men over 60 requires renewal to find ways to go at it with consistent effort and willpower to stay focused. Without the responsibility of raising a family or even work obligations, it may be difficult to find the motivation. But it is even more important to consider healthy habits. Discipline is a gradual process that strengthens your self-control by reducing impulsive behaviors and enabling you to make deliberate choices aligned with your values and objectives.

Emotion Regulation Techniques

Effectively managing emotions like anger, stress, and anxiety is crucial for self-control. Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness exercises are effective tools in this endeavor. Deep breaths can calm your nerves and reduce emotional intensity, while progressive muscle relaxation helps release physical tension. Engaging in mindful awareness exercises allows you to be present in the moment, regulating your emotions by observing them without judgment. Taking time-outs when emotions become overwhelming and journaling to gain insight into your feelings are valuable practices. If emotions prove challenging to manage, seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor can provide personalized strategies for greater self-control.

Time Management Skills

Efficient time management is a cornerstone of self-control, as it helps prevent procrastination and ensures tasks are completed with focus and discipline. Men approaching retirement and shedding long-standing responsibilities tend to give up on the familiar structure of time schedules. Life still requires attention to detail including focus on managing your progress. You may be engaged in new ventures or enjoying leisure activities more. By allocating dedicated time slots for specific tasks, you reduce the temptation to delay or give in to impulsive distractions. This structured approach not only improves your productivity but also cultivates self-control by encouraging you to stick to your schedule and resist the allure of procrastination.

Avoid Impulsive Purchases

Self-control blankets many personal decisions. Men over 60 may have opportunities in life never before to buy…stuff. Before making any purchase, particularly significant ones, it’s still wise to pause and engage in critical thinking. You do have to ask yourself whether the purchase is really going to elevate your happiness. In the end, it’s wise to reign in tiny purchases that add up or hold off on the big items. By taking this moment to reflect, you ensure that your financial decisions are still intentional to harmonize with your broader objectives, helping you maintain discipline and make purchases that truly enhance your life.

Practice delaying immediate rewards for larger, more meaningful ones. This trains your mind to resist instant gratification in various areas of life.

Set Boundaries with Technology

For men over 60, the era of 24/7 access to technology is a boon and a curse. Your “digital life” can easily spin out of control. To bolster your self-control and reclaim mastery over your digital life, it’s crucial to set limits on screen time, particularly concerning smartphones and social media. Similar to making purchases one has to consider if an increasingly digital life enhances your life or not. With the increase in access comes the need to measure use against benefit. I just spent 20 minutes finding a simple article on controlling your engagement with technology – as an example of ways tech engagement absolutely gets out of control. The goal is to regain authority over your digital interactions, minimizing the constant lure of notifications and the addictive pull of scrolling. And this leads to better self-control.

House Management

Management of your home environment stands as a testament to one’s self-control and responsibility. It encompasses the commitment to diligently care for one’s home, ensuring its longevity and safety. It definitely plays into the reality for men over 60 that it may be time to sell and find a more suitable house for empty-nesting. This discipline requires the restraint to set aside time and resources for regular inspections, repairs, and cleaning, even in the face of busy schedules and competing priorities.

Exercising self-control in house management and maintenance involves resisting the temptation to procrastinate or cut corners, realizing that the consequences of neglect can be costly and even perilous. Ultimately, house maintenance reflects a commitment to the well-being of one’s family and the preservation of a secure and comfortable living space, making it a place where self-control takes center stage.

Develop Healthy Eating Habits

Maintaining a balanced diet is not just about nutrition; it’s a testament to one’s self-control and mindful choices. It requires a vigilant monitoring of food choices, practicing portion control, and steering clear of emotional eating triggers.

Exercising self-control in dietary matters means resisting the allure of unhealthy snacks or overindulgence when faced with temptation. It means choosing nutritious options over empty-calorie, sugary treats and being mindful of portion sizes to prevent overeating. Moreover, it entails recognizing the difference between true hunger and emotional cravings, addressing the latter with healthier coping mechanisms rather than succumbing to impulsive consumption.

In essence, a balanced diet reflects a commitment to long-term health and well-being, where self-control plays a pivotal role. It showcases the ability to make informed choices, prioritize health over momentary desires, and ultimately, nurture a harmonious relationship with food.

Exercise Regularly

ommitting to a consistent workout routine is a powerful demonstration of self-discipline. While exercise undoubtedly enhances physical health, it goes beyond mere physical benefits; it’s a reflection of one’s ability to stay committed and focused on long-term goals.

Maintaining a regular exercise regimen requires the self-control to resist the allure of sedentary habits or distractions. It involves dedicating time and effort to prioritize physical well-being, even when motivation wanes. The routine may demand early mornings or late evenings, but the dedication remains unwavering.

Through exercise, individuals learn the art of perseverance, as they push through discomfort and fatigue to achieve their fitness objectives. It instills a sense of responsibility to oneself, a commitment to health, and a deep understanding of the rewards that come with consistency. Ultimately, a consistent workout routine not only strengthens the body but also nurtures a resilient and self-disciplined mind.

Prioritize Sleep

Adequate sleep isn’t just a necessity for physical rest; it’s a cornerstone of self-control. It plays a vital role in cognitive function, emotional regulation, and overall well-being. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule and creating a sleep-conducive environment require discipline, but the benefits are immense.

Self-control is evident in the commitment to a consistent bedtime routine, resisting the urge to stay up late, and prioritizing sleep over distractions. A regular sleep schedule aligns with the body’s natural circadian rhythm, enhancing the quality of rest and ensuring optimal cognitive performance.

Furthermore, creating a sleep-conducive environment showcases self-discipline. This involves minimizing noise and light, investing in a comfortable mattress and bedding, and avoiding stimulating activities before bedtime. Such practices reflect a commitment to self-care, recognizing that quality sleep is essential for maintaining emotional stability and cognitive sharpness.

In essence, prioritizing adequate sleep is a powerful demonstration of self-control, recognizing that a well-rested mind and body are the foundation for making sound decisions, managing emotions, and leading a balanced and fulfilling life.

Learn to Say “No”

Setting boundaries and knowing when to say “no” are powerful displays of self-respect and self-control. It is a recognition that your time, energy, and well-being are precious and deserve protection.

Having clear boundaries means having the self-discipline to avoid overcommitting yourself. It involves evaluating your own capacity and priorities before agreeing to take on new responsibilities. Saying “no” when necessary is not a sign of weakness but a testament to your self-awareness and your commitment to safeguarding your physical and emotional health.

By setting boundaries and exercising self-control in your commitments, you send a clear message to yourself and others that you value your time and your ability to manage it wisely. This self-respect translates into a balanced life where you can devote the necessary time and energy to your own well-being and personal growth, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling and controlled life.

Master Stress Management

Stress often acts as a catalyst for impulsive behavior, making it crucial to develop effective stress-reduction techniques. Practices like yoga, mindfulness, and spending time in nature are valuable tools that promote self-control and emotional balance.

Engaging in yoga cultivates self-discipline through its focus on controlled movements, breath, and mindfulness. It helps individuals manage stress by encouraging relaxation and self-awareness. Similarly, mindfulness practices teach the skill of being present in the moment, allowing one to observe thoughts and emotions without reacting impulsively.

Nature, too, provides a natural remedy for stress. Spending time outdoors fosters a sense of tranquility and connection with the world, helping to alleviate stress’s grip on impulsive reactions.

By learning and incorporating these stress-reduction techniques into daily life, individuals can fortify their self-control, enabling them to respond thoughtfully rather than impulsively, even in the face of stressors. These practices empower individuals to regain control over their actions, promoting emotional well-being and self-discipline.

Enhance Communication Skills

Effective communication serves as the keystone in preventing misunderstandings and conflicts. It requires the cultivation of skills such as active listening, empathy, and providing constructive feedback.

Active listening involves more than just hearing words; it entails fully engaging with the speaker, seeking to understand their perspective, and asking clarifying questions when necessary. This practice demonstrates respect and an earnest desire to comprehend, significantly reducing the risk of misinterpretation.

Empathy, too, is a powerful tool in communication. It involves putting oneself in the other person’s shoes, acknowledging their feelings, and responding with sensitivity. Empathetic communication fosters trust and understanding, mitigating potential conflicts born out of misunderstandings or insensitivity.

Constructive feedback rounds out the trifecta of effective communication. It involves offering feedback that is specific, actionable, and respectful. This approach promotes growth and positive change rather than defensiveness or resentment.

By practicing these communication skills, individuals not only prevent misunderstandings but also pave the way for harmonious relationships built on trust, empathy, and clear, constructive dialogue. Effective communication is, at its core, a demonstration of self-control—a choice to engage thoughtfully and purposefully rather than react impulsively in moments of tension or disagreement.

Foster Gratitude

Cultivating a sense of gratitude is a profound practice that not only enriches life but also strengthens emotional resilience and self-control. By regularly acknowledging the positives in your life, you foster a mindset that empowers you to navigate challenges with grace and discipline.

Gratitude serves as a potent antidote to impulsivity and emotional turbulence. When you focus on the things you’re thankful for, you create a buffer against negative emotions and impulsive reactions. This conscious act of recognizing the good in your life encourages a more balanced perspective and equips you with the self-control to respond thoughtfully rather than react impulsively.

Moreover, gratitude enhances emotional resilience by promoting a sense of well-being and contentment. It enables you to weather storms with greater composure, knowing that there is always something to be thankful for, even in difficult times.

Incorporating gratitude into your daily life is an exercise in self-control itself—a deliberate choice to redirect your focus towards the positive aspects of life, even when negativity or impulsivity beckons. This practice not only enriches your emotional well-being but also strengthens your capacity for self-control, creating a harmonious and fulfilling life.

Build a Support System

Building and maintaining a network of supportive friends and family is a cornerstone of success on your self-control journey. These individuals play a pivotal role by offering encouragement, providing accountability, and being a source of strength in challenging times.

Supportive friends and family members serve as a steady presence in your life, reminding you of your goals and helping you stay on track. They offer words of motivation and wisdom, empowering you to resist temptations and make wise decisions even when faced with adversity.

Moreover, they provide a sense of accountability. Knowing that you have people who care about your well-being can serve as a powerful incentive to exercise self-control, as you don’t want to let them down.

In times of weakness or self-doubt, your supportive social circle becomes a source of refuge and strength, offering a listening ear, guidance, and unwavering belief in your ability to exercise self-control.

Ultimately, surrounding yourself with such individuals is a proactive choice in your pursuit of self-control. It’s a testament to your commitment to personal growth and well-being, recognizing that you don’t have to walk this journey alone, and that the support of loved ones can be an invaluable asset on your path to self-control and self-improvement.

Seek Professional Help

For individuals grappling with addiction, anger issues, or other challenges that obstruct self-control, seeking therapy or counseling is a wise and courageous step. These professional interventions offer specialized guidance and unwavering support on your path to self-control and personal transformation.

Therapy and counseling provide a safe and confidential space to explore the underlying causes of self-control challenges. Whether it’s addiction to substances, impulsive anger, or other hurdles, trained therapists can help you uncover the roots of these behaviors and equip you with effective strategies to regain control.

Moreover, therapy fosters self-awareness, enabling you to better understand your triggers, emotions, and thought patterns. This heightened self-awareness is a fundamental building block for enhanced self-control, as it empowers you to make conscious choices and respond thoughtfully to situations rather than reacting impulsively.

Professional help also offers a structured and supportive framework for addressing your challenges. Therapists and counselors can provide evidence-based techniques, coping strategies, and a roadmap for sustainable change.

In essence, seeking therapy or counseling is a profound commitment to personal growth and well-being. It is an acknowledgment of the strength it takes to confront your challenges and a recognition that you don’t have to face them alone. These professionals are valuable allies in your journey toward self-control and a more fulfilling life.


Keeping a journal is a powerful practice that not only tracks your thoughts, emotions, and progress but also serves as a catalyst for self-reflection and self-control. Through the act of journaling, you embark on a journey of self-discovery and growth.

A journal becomes your confidant, a safe space to unload thoughts, feelings, and experiences. By putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard), you gain clarity and insight into your inner world. This self-awareness is crucial for identifying areas where self-control may be lacking. You begin to notice patterns, triggers, and recurring behaviors that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Moreover, journaling helps you monitor your progress on your self-control journey. You can document your successes, setbacks, and the strategies that work best for you. This record becomes a valuable resource, providing you with a roadmap to navigate future challenges more effectively.

Journaling is not merely about documenting your life; it’s an active practice of introspection and self-improvement. It empowers you to exercise self-control not only over your actions but also over your thoughts and emotions. It’s a testament to your commitment to personal growth and your dedication to living a more deliberate and self-controlled life.

Learn from Setbacks

Setbacks are an integral part of the journey towards personal growth and self-control. Instead of succumbing to frustration or disappointment when faced with obstacles, consider them as invaluable opportunities for learning and improvement.

Every setback carries valuable lessons. It’s in these moments of adversity that you have the chance to develop resilience, problem-solving skills, and a deeper understanding of yourself. They highlight areas where self-control may need reinforcement and provide a chance to hone your abilities.

Embracing setbacks with a positive perspective allows you to transform challenges into stepping stones toward your goals. It’s a testament to your commitment to personal growth, as you choose to see setbacks as temporary detours rather than roadblocks. Each setback becomes a catalyst for self-reflection and refinement, ultimately contributing to your journey of becoming a more self-controlled and resilient individual.

Cultivate Patience

Patience stands as the bedrock of self-control, serving as a guiding principle in both daily decisions and long-term goals. It’s a practice that involves waiting for results and resisting the urge to rush into decisions hastily.

In a fast-paced world where instant gratification is often the norm, cultivating patience can be challenging. However, it’s precisely in these moments of waiting and deliberation that self-control thrives. Patience empowers you to pause, evaluate, and consider the consequences of your actions.

By practicing patience, you can avoid impulsive decisions that may lead to regret. It grants you the composure to wait for the right opportunity, make informed choices, and persevere through challenges, all while maintaining self-control. Patience is a testament to your commitment to your long-term well-being and goals, as it allows you to prioritize thoughtful, measured actions over impulsive reactions.

BONUS: Personal Security

Personal security is inextricably linked to self-control, as it involves making conscious choices to protect oneself physically, emotionally, and financially. Exercising self-control means resisting impulsive decisions that could compromise personal safety or well-being.

For example, maintaining a secure home, practicing caution in unfamiliar environments, and making wise financial decisions all require self-discipline and careful consideration. Self-control empowers individuals to avoid risky behaviors and prioritize their long-term safety and security over momentary temptations or reckless choices.

Furthermore, self-control plays a significant role in personal security by enabling individuals to respond calmly and rationally in emergency situations, avoiding panic or impulsive reactions that could worsen the outcome. Overall, personal security is a manifestation of self-control, demonstrating the capacity to make wise decisions and protect one’s well-being in a world filled with both opportunities and potential risks.


Developing self-control is an ongoing process that requires dedication and self-awareness. By implementing these 21+ effective strategies, men over 60 can foster self-discipline, make better choices, and lead more fulfilling lives. Remember that self-control is a skill that can be developed and refined over time, leading to greater success and well-being in all aspects of life.


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