Facts about willpower
Some interesting facts have come out of the latest research on willpower.
- Willpower is like a muscle in 3 ways.
- If you don’t use it, over time it will “atrophy” and grow weaker.
- The “power” of willpower will deplete. If you use it too much in one day, it will grow “tired” and weak like your muscles feel after too much exercise.
- Over time, you can build it up with use, like you can build muscles. Willpower becomes stronger with use.
- Willpower is not fixed at birth. You’re not born “with” it or “without” it.
- Not something one person has and another doesn’t. We all can develop willpower as we exercise it.
Important steps to exercising willpower
- Delay gratification. Look at the long-term good and not the short-term pleasure.
- Use “I want power.” Kelly McGonigal, in her book, “The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works” says that we need to use “I want power” instead of willpower. Set a goal for what you want to accomplish and think of that instead of what you are giving up. Don’t think, “I have to give up chocolate cake,” think, “I want to be 10 centimeters smaller in my waist, feel better, and healthier.
- Goal-setting. As we’ve discussed before in this blog, probably the best way to accomplish anything is to set a clear, achievable, and measurable goal. The same is true with exercising willpower.
- Set a regular schedule. As I said above, if you use too much willpower in one day, it will become fatigued and weak, like a muscle. One way to not be forced to exercise excessive willpower is to create habits and schedules that will take you away from the problem areas so you don’t have to “use up” your daily allotment of willpower.
Other Practical tips that help build willpower
- Do the hardest thing first while willpower is strongest.
- Get plenty of sleep. Believe it or not, getting enough sleep helps us exercise willpower better.
- Have and keep a good attitude. A bad attitude drains willpower; a good attitude builds it.
- Get plenty of exercise. This may not seem obvious, but exercise also contributes to developing willpower.
The good news is that if you have felt like a failure when it comes to exercising willpower in the past, it is never too late to take some of these steps to help yourself build willpower and accomplish the important things you really want to do.