Boosting willpower: the best practical methods

The need of boosting willpower is relevant to most people but achieving it is not easy. It's a methodical process that involves hard dedication, planning, monitoring, and commitment. In order to understand how to boost your willpower, you also need to understand what is willpower and how does it function. 

Boosting willpower photo

What is willpower and how does it work?

In the simplest form, willpower can be defined as your ability to delay gratification, resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals. The best way to understand how it functions is to imagine it as a muscle. It can get tired and it can be trained. If you neglect it, your ability to resist short-term temptations can become weak. 

How to boost your willpower and achieve your goals?

How do you improve muscles? You exercise. The same concept applies here. Regularly saying no to actions that require willpower will improve it over time. It could be avoiding a tasty high-calorie snack, skipping a workout, procrastinating on reading a book, or studying. 

It's that simple, isn't it? Well, no. While you are using your muscle - willpower, it gets tired. It's a concept that is called ego depletion. Each time you use your willpower, it becomes harder to resist the temptation next time. That's why for most people, resisting that tasty high-calorie snack on Saturday evening is way harder than in the morning. 

To circumvent this, you have to plan your day to avoid temptations that would eat up your willpower. Avoid buying additional snacks that you will definitely not eat today or hide them further away (as mentioned in our article about fat loss). Create a workout schedule instead of saying that you will just do it in the evening or the next day. By taking actions that are planned, you reduce the cost of willpower and at the same time, while resisting temptations, train the willpower muscle without burning it. 

If you have a goal to reach and you need the willpower to do it, planning is a great start, but the next step is monitoring your goals. It is recommended that you monitor your goal progress each week. This way you will have to think about your goals and you won't just forget about them. 

Additional actions you can take

Prepare what-if action plans for certain situations that will happen in the future. What if you will get offered a cookie at work? If you plan ahead with what-if questions, at the time of the event, you will have to use less willpower to say no to temptations. 

Try to not be around temptations while in bad mood. Various studies show that while being in a bad mood, your willpower is severely weaker. It even can get to the point where you say "what a hell" and stop resisting any temptations. It's a real phenomenon called by the same words "what a hell effect". At that point, willpower shuts down entirely. 

Main source: Why You Are Who You Are: Investigations Into Human Personality by Mark R. Leary. 

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