When you use willpower to your greatest advantage anything is possible!
The American Psychological Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” Willpower is the ability to self-regulate, and in one way or another, you are using it every single day. Each time you resist a cookie or head to the gym instead of sleeping in, you are working your system’s ability to override your desire for instant gratification. Over the course of the day, each act of resistance over temptation actually lowers the chance you will resist the next tempting encounter. Scientists have likened willpower to a muscle that can be strengthened over time—the more you use it, the stronger it gets. However, just like physical muscles, the willpower muscle can also be fatigued if overused. If this is the case, then, you need to understand how you can use what you know about willpower to conserve it, amplify it, and use it to your greatest benefit.
Here are 4 Ways to Boost Your Willpower: Avoid Temptation: If you only have a certain allotment of willpower on any given day, it makes sense to avoid temptation in the first place, so as not to use it all up too soon. If you’re trying to eat healthier, don’t buy junk food in the first place. If you want to drink less alcohol, don’t hang around at bars. If you need to write a report, temporarily turn off your phone, so that you don’t have to resist the urge to check your texts, email or Facebook. In other words, if you can curate your day to save up your willpower, you will automatically feel like you have more of it! Have a Plan: It would be impossible to avoid temptation altogether, so having a plan for when you’re faced with tempting situations will help to take the mental work out of the equation. Psychologists suggest a technique called “implementation intention” in the form of “if-then” statements. For example, if you’re trying to quit smoking, you might tell yourself, “If I feel the urge to smoke, then I will chew a piece of gum.” Rather than engaging in the internal struggle every time you’re faced with the impulse to smoke, you simply go for the gum in your purse because you’ve planned ahead. Set Yourself Up for Success: In addition to setting up mental constructs to prepare yourself for the inevitable obstacles of the day, consider what you can do to make your desired habits easier to execute. Try laying out your workout clothes and running shoes before going to bed, so it’s effortless to get dressed for your morning jog. Sign up for your yoga classes ahead of time to hold yourself accountable, making you more likely to make it to class. Leave your credit cards at home, and only use cash when you go shopping, to keep yourself on budget and avoid the temptation to impulse-buy. Smart planning will yield better results.
Complete Tasks Earlier in the Day: Self-development educator + author Brian Tracy teaches that if you do your biggest and most important task first thing in the day, you’re more likely to succeed and less likely to procrastinate—a technique he calls “eating the frog.” If your genuine intention is to meditate daily, you’re more likely to do it if it’s first thing in the morning, as opposed to saving it for “whenever you have time.” Go to the gym before work as opposed to after work. Tackle that important work project in the morning, and respond to your emails in the afternoon.
Once you take on a more mindful approach to the way you spend your time + energy, life-changing results will emerge!