Kelly Alioth Drinkwater (aliothsan) wrote,
Kelly Alioth Drinkwater

Self-control, the long view, and jobs

That post describes a series of studies showing the influence of "high-level, abstract, and/or forest-rather-than-trees" thinking on the willpower of participants. One of the studies went like this: You hold a grip exerciser as long as you can, to establish your baseline strength. Then you either write about how you maintain your good health ("exercise"), or why you maintain your good health ("to do well in college"). Then you hold the grip exerciser again, as long as you can. And if you were in the "why" condition, you probably hold it longer. There were variants. It's interesting reading, and fairly short.

Though this is only a few studies, the suggestions for increasing your self-control by exercising long-range thinking and keeping goals in mind... they make a lot of sense. It also makes sense that I should have trouble with that, because I am so very fond of turning my brain off and meticulously executing routines and just being generally detail-oriented.[*]

Then it occurs to me that I'm deliberately seeking jobs that are good for detail-oriented, meticulous people (QA). And I wonder, is that just going to make me worse? Should I be seeking jobs that will challenge me and push me in the opposite direction?

(I suppose the answer is going to be "both; strive for balance". It usually is.)

[*] Not that this is the only reason I suspect I have trouble with self-control. I also have the problem where, as a child, I was pretty much always rewarded for Being Smart and never for Working Hard. FTR, I don't blame my parents or any individual teachers for this. It seems like a systemic problem in the whole realm of Gifted & Talented Education.

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