Do you feel you don’t have enough willpower?
You’re not alone. Almost everyone feels they lack self-control. And feelings of hopelessness when it comes to personal resolve have only intensified because temptations have multiplied in modern times and dog us at every turn.
In their New York Times bestseller, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength (affiliate link), Roy Baumeister and John Tierney reveal that one-fourth of our waking hours are spent resisting urges. That puts our personal struggle with self-control into perspective, doesn’t it?
What Can Science Tell Us About Willpower?
It’s not impossible to develop great self-command if you understand the science behind self-control and learn the right tricks. So what does science tell us about willpower? Here are 15 things:
- Willpower is finite. There is not an endless supply; it must be replenished.
- You use the same reservoir of willpower for different things.
- Self-control is like a muscle. It can become fatigued by overuse, but it can also be strengthened on the long term through exercise.
- Strengthening your self-control in one area has a spillover effect on other areas of your life.
- When you exercise willpower it becomes stronger so it is less easily depleted.
- The first step in self-control is to set a goal.
- Orderly habits like neatness can improve overall self-control.
- Glucose is the fuel behind willpower.
- Mental work uses glucose, the crucial compound of willpower.
- Decision making depletes your willpower.
- When your willpower is depleted, you are less able to make decisions, experiencing what is called “decision fatigue”.
- Decision fatigue leaves us more vulnerable to marketers.
- People with strong self-control spend less time resisting desires than others.
- Developing good habits and routines enhances self-control.
- People with good self control use their willpower not to get through emergencies but to avoid them.
From these facts, we can surmise that self-discipline isn’t about force, it’s about intelligence, pacing, and replenishment.
So how do we put this information into action?
10 Essential Tips for Developing Willpower
Baumeister and Tierney translate the science of willpower into 10 tips to help you increase self-control:
- Know your limits
- Watch for symptoms of depletion of your willpower
- Pick your battles
- Make a to-do list
- Beware of underestimating the time needed for a task
- Don’t forget the basics like a good diet and sleep
- Use positive procrastination
- Focus on one thing and one thing only, nothing else
- Keep track, monitoring your progress
- Reward yourself often
Most of us are incredibly hard on ourselves when we fail at new habits or fall short of our goals. But it doesn’t help to reprimand ourselves, does it? Now that you know the science behind self-control, you can craft your own program for cultivating greater restraint.
How to Put These Willpower Tips Into Action
You could also use these 10 tips as a way to assess your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to self-possession. Once you know where you need to work, start small by putting one of these tips in place. Once that’s accomplished, build from there by adding another.
There’s a very good reason to focus on willpower: happiness. According to Baumeister and Tierney, there are two personal qualities that predict positive outcomes in life: intelligence and willpower. Intelligence is inborn but willpower can be developed.
So don’t give up on yourself or your dreams just because you break a resolution and lag behind on your goals. Use these principles to develop a relaxed rhythm of momentum and make your goals happen.
P. S. You might also want to read this: How to Fight Distraction and Make Your Goals Happen.
Source: Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength (affiliate link)
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