Impulsiveness can cause a host of problems in a single person's life

Impulsiveness can be taken to extremes.

We singles generally don't give much thought to our impulsiveness--until it gets us into trouble.

Both men and women can be impulsive. Women often criticize men for being too predictable, for not being spontaneous. Men criticize women for doing things without thinking ahead.

One danger spot is buying things. If you've noticed, supermarkets and discount stores always have an assortment of small, usually inexpensive items in the checkout lanes. It's no secret that these are called "impulse items", because people see them and buy them without much thought.

It's when we buy large, expensive items without forethought that we get into trouble.

Taking the fun out of life?

Yes, we men often can be too predictable. We tend to get into comfortable routines because there's a certain security in predictability. We find unpredictability a bit scary.

Women know that. Their spontaneity can rattle us, and they find that amusing. Maybe it's the way our brains are wired, but I think planning for the future is as important as living fully in the present.

Too much routine is a bad thing and can take the fun out of life. Somebody who never ventures outside their comfort zone can get stodgy and closed-minded.

Both extremes are bad.

In favor of caution

I don't want you to think that one of the themes of is never doing anything on the spur of the moment.

But think about it honestly. Has your free-spiritedness ever caused problems? Do you use shopping as anesthesia? Have you piled up credit card debt from reckless buying?

Impulsiveness--spontaneity, if you will--can make life more exciting, but remember that every action has consequences. Too many bad consequences and you've backed yourself into a corner.

A whole lifetime of unrestraint can cause problems with your health, your relationships, and your retirement planning.

Striking a balance

Okay, many men are too predictable. But many women are too impulsive.

How do we strike a balance, then, between stodginess and rashness?

It has to do with moderation. When a routine becomes absolutely inflexible, that's wrong. On the other hand, when life is constant immediacy, that's wrong too.

Stodgy folks, whether men or women, need to loosen up a little, and impulsive people need to tighten up and exercise some control.

While it's hard to be objective about your own life, honesty with yourself is essential. Many of us retreat from taking blame for our own problems, but if impulsive spending has put you into debt, who forced you to take out that charge card and make unnecessary purchases? Uh oh. It was you.

And if your life is more orderly than a train timetable, who's responsible for that? Uh oh. You.

Jack's truths for thriving.

Life's lamest excuse is saying, "That's just the way I am."

All of us can change the way we are, if the way we are is self-destructive or brings on a raft of problems. A truly intelligent, self-aware person takes inventory of their life from time to time to see whether they're getting in their own way. The purpose of life is to grow and develop, not just stay "the way I am."

The moral is, don't let yourself get carried away with either tendency. Being too dull is as big a crime as being too wacky.

Live responsibly. Be spontaneous. Just don't go overboard on either.

Return to top of impulsiveness page.

Share this page: