“Both my best and my worst habit is that I’m very impulsive.”
– Tove Lo
It makes no difference that you know better or that you promised yourself you wouldn’t. It doesn’t matter that you are aware of the consequences and realize you’ll regret them later. At some point, you’ll be out with friends and your “just a drink or two” will transform into a steady stream of alcohol. Or maybe your “just one cookie” turns into a whole bag. It’s called impulsivity — that tendency to act on a whim without considering the consequences — and it gets the better of all of us. Yet just because we’ve been told it’s bad, doesn’t mean we need to toss it out like the Big Bad Wolf. In fact, it can be downright advantageous. Here’s why.
Why It Works
Peter Skillman, VP of Design at Palm, introduced a group of engineers, CEOs, MBA students and others to a challenge: Using dry spaghetti noodles, string, tape, and a marshmallow, build the tallest free-standing structure possible in a limited time frame. Who won? The Kindergartners. Why? Because they kick butt at impulsivity. They don’t waste valuable time planning; they just do. By doing, they made mistakes, learned from them, and experimented with new ways of doing until they got it right. See, we can think and plan until the end of time, but we need to fumble through those mistakes before finding success. The Kindergarten students relied on impulsivity and wound up “winning” because they learned from their mistakes sooner.
You Always Go After What You Want
“A lot of negative words adults call the young, like ‘naive’ and ‘impulsive,’ are things we can turn into strengths to help us.” – Adora Svitak
While some people sit around and think about what they want in life, an impulsive person will actually pursue it. They leave little time for self-doubt and aren’t deterred by naysayers.
You Always Have a Story to Tell
An impulsive person forms a quilt of stories with the fabric of life. They take the road less traveled. Sure, it’s filled with bumps and bruises; but it also has adventure, excitement and interesting unpredictability.
You Follow Your Heart
Someone who is impulsive prefers to date others based on connectivity; they don’t stay in relationships with people they don’t like. Rather than stick around solely for security, money, power or status, they’ll jump ship if things don’t smooth out fairly soon.
You Are Reliable
Impulsive people aren’t inclined to email you for five months letting you know how much they want to visit; they are the ones who visited four months ago. They won’t proclaim a desire to help you repair your car or paint your bedroom; they’ll be there before you have a chance to ask. And when you call with a random invitation, they don’t flinch; they say “yes” and show up with a smile.
While we could just as well make a list of undesirable qualities many impulsive people possess, it’s important to recognize that it ain’t all bad. Impulsivity isn’t the negative some of us imagine. It’s a trait just like any other with a whole lot of good and a sprinkle of not.