Have you ever told yourself you really want to do something? But when it came to doing it – you just couldn’t? Willpower, is something each of us struggles with in our daily lives. In deciding if we’re going to eat well or not, exercise or not, and so on. It takes willpower to say “No, I won’t eat that extra piece” or, “Okay, I will go study for an hour”. This post focuses on a lesson in increasing willpower.
The Willpower Muscle
Willpower can be treated like a muscle, for two reasons. The first is because if we overuse it, it gets tired and won’t be as strong. The second is, with some effort, we can train it.
Sometimes we may do things that don’t fully align with our true goals or values. We can be quite hard on ourselves about it… or in complete denial. Take for example healthy eating, this is something most of us have probably taken on as a goal at some stage. This requires the willpower to constantly make healthy choices. Each time we make these choices, we’re depleting our willpower, we’re over using it.
A study showed that people who overuse their willpower for one thing, may severely lack it elsewhere. For example, someone who is constantly dieting is apparently far more likely to cheat on their spouse. They just don’t have the willpower to stop themselves.
So, if we’re draining our willpower, how do we go about achieving our goals? Without depleting our willpower to the point of cheating on our spouses?
Glad you asked, there are many ways to train your willpower. Some that will take more time and effort, but I’m going to focus on only one in this blog.
Create an environment where you have to make less decisions.
Set yourself up, and your environment, in a way where you’re not faced with difficult choices to make. For example, with following a healthier lifestyle, here are a list of things you could do:
- Keep only healthy food in your fridge, and in plain sight. (Then you don’t have to say no to chocolate, if you don’t have it)
- When shopping, stick to a list, and never go shopping hungry (you’ll make bad decisions)
- Pack your gym bag and keep it in the car, you won’t have the excuse of having to go home and change. Go straight to the gym after work.
- Bring healthy food to work, including snacks, and eat a meal at work before gym if you need the energy. Then you’re not choosing between a salad and a hot chicken roll in the deli.
Creating an environment where it’s easy for you to make the right choices will help you keep it up. Much more than if you’re constantly fighting the urge to make the wrong choice.
If you’re interested in reading more about willpower I’d highly recommend “The Willpower Instinct” by Kelly McGonigal.
I hope you’ve found something useful in this!