Thinking about the big picture instead of the little steps required along the way can help to give us the self-control we need to reach a goal, according to new research.
This finding could be especially useful for weight loss. For example, when confronted with the choice between a piece of fruit or an unhealthy snack, thinking of the end weight loss result could better help you pick the fruit, researchers said.
Ultimately, the study suggests that "high-level construal (the use of cognitive abstraction to extract the essential and goal-relevant features common across a class of events), relative to low-level construal (the process of highlighting the incidental and idiosyncratic features that render a particular event unique), promotes self-control," the researchers wrote in the study.
The study, which included analysis of past research, is published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.
And having self-control really is important, even early on in life -- another recent study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, showed that preschoolers who don't have a lot of self-control or patience are more likely to put on extra pounds later on in adulthood, Reuters reported.
"Self-control is associated with so many outcomes important to society: weight... but also health, financial stability (and) likelihood of being convicted of a crime," study researcher Tanya Schlam, from the Univeristy of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, told Reuters.