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How to Build Your Willpower

Have you noticed sometimes you have amazing willpower whilst others, you just can’t stick to anything?

There are times when you are completely focussed and achieving your goals, things seem to just flow.  You know what you need to do, and you get on and do it.  And then there are the frustrating times when you really want to do something and for whatever reason, you just don’t make it happen.  You struggle and battle but still, you don’t stick to whatever you are doing.

This is all about your willpower and I recently read ‘Willpower’ by Roy F, Baumeister and John Tierney.  They believe self-control (or willpower) is the secret to success.  This book is highly recommended if you want to dig into the science behind willpower.

At the core of willpower is the ability to wait for satisfaction over achieving short-term gratification.  The studies in the book show people with high levels of willpower make more progress in their lives are happier and healthier.

According to the authors, you start the day with a bucket of willpower.  As the day goes on, your willpower gets used up so by the end of the day, it is depleted.  This is where a lot of people fall off the wagon whether it’s giving into the glass of wine, have a shopping spree online, or mindlessly sitting in front of the TV.

Willpower affects all aspects of our lives and gets used on all sorts of things including:

  • Making decisions (and we make hundreds every day!)
  • Stress
  • Pain and illness
  • Focusing on projects at work and not allowing yourself to get distracted
  • Following restricted diets
  • Suppressing feelings such as not allowing yourself to cry at a sad film
  • Stopping yourself from doing something you want to do

To me, this makes perfect sense.  When life is flowing easily, I look after myself and achieve my goals.  Throw in a few of life’s major challenges into the equation and my willpower wavers.

Building your willpower muscle

Willpower is something you can build, just like a muscle.  The more you practice willpower in one area of your life, it will have a positive effect on others.

Become aware of your triggers for when your willpower wains.  This self-awareness will help you to prepare in advance, so you don’t need to make decisions on the spot.

Limit the number of decisions you need to make by creating a plan, e.g. creating a menu so you don’t need to think about what to eat at mealtimes or putting your clothes out at night so you’re not thinking about what to wear in the morning.

Focus your willpower on achieving one big goal.  If you are trying to lose weight and go to the gym whilst writing your dissertation and working extra shifts to save up so you can go travelling, something is going to give, and you will return to your old habits before you know it.  Take the pressure off and decide what your focus is, and you will find as you move forward on that goal, your willpower will improve in other areas too.

Keep motivated and engaged by constantly reinforcing what you want to achieve in the long term.  Remember to celebrate each step of the way to remind yourself how much progress you are making.

Build pockets of calm into your day and do whatever you enjoy relaxing whether it’s exercising, reading, or meditating.

If you need help with motivation, contact us to find out how the Lightning Process can help you.