Willpower. We all have it and there is actually quite a bit of science behind what it is and how we can strengthen it. The great thing about willpower is, like a muscle, it can be trained and strengthened. And yet, just as a muscle can only work so hard before giving out, willpower can only last so long before it too gives out. So, here are 5 life hacks to boost your willpower:
- Focus on one modified behavior at a time. What do I mean? Because willpower is a limited resource, the best way to boost its effects is by focusing on one new goal at a time. For example if you want to eat healthier and start a new work out routine, to be most successful first focus on eating healthier then, once you have that down pat, you can add-in and focus your willpower on a work out routine (or vice versa, start the workout routine then focus on eating healthier).
- Have a fallback plan in place. Likely there will be things that come up and roadblocks that interfere with your plans. Anticipating these roadblocks by having a backup plan in place will help you be more likely to accomplish your daily goal. If you are trying to eat healthier, anticipate the time that it takes to cook and what your schedule looks like for the week. If you have a busy week ahead, prep meals in advance so you aren’t tempted to grab for whatever is fast and easy instead.
- Avoid temptation. How does this boost your willpower? Well because science has found that willpower is a limited resource, the more you avoid temptation the less willpower you will use up. That way you can focus your willpower on what you really want to accomplish.
- Develop small habits. Developing small habits can actually have a powerful impact on strengthening your willpower. Research has shown that even a simple modified behavior—like making the bed in the morning—can have a powerful positive effect on willpower. How so? Well these small habits build our self-discipline and self-control, which then spreads to other areas of our life.
- Choose a reward in advance. Sure, you probably chose something as a reward for when you reach your end goal, but what about on a daily level? When you are trying to change your behavior (like exercising 5 times a week), you need to have a small reward for instant gratification (we humans love instant gratification). Make it something small, like 15 minutes of down time just for you or one small piece of dark chocolate after dinner. Use these as mini motivators to push you to your ultimate goal and your ‘big’ reward (like that new pair of running shoes).