Focusing on specific goals is often suggested as a means of self-control (visualise yourself skinny to help ignore that fatty food). However, psychological research suggests that shifting your general thought patterns to focus on abstract, broader goals rather than situational specifics can also be useful for improving self-control.
Picture by artbandito
PsyBlog reports on a study which found that people were more likely to select a healthy apple over an unhealthy candy bar if they had been set to work on a task involving abstract rather than concrete thinking. The conclusion? Having a big-picture view may be more important than specific steps:
It seems you can bolster resistance to temptation by thinking abstractly about the goal you want to obtain because it causes your mind to automatically associate temptations with negativity. Hey presto, more self-control and thank you unconscious mind.
While many goals will also require a degree of concrete thinking and planning, it does suggest that including both can be useful, rather than getting hung up on specific details. Thanks Ruvi!