Willpower. It’s a great concept and we all want more of it. Especially in this holiday season of rampant temptation, right? The good news is, you can have it. Neuroscientists like Roy Baumeister and Kelly McGonigal have delved into the intricacies of willpower, and its close cousin, self-control, and have come up with some surprising truths. Here are 7 tips for bulking up your willpower muscle:
- Recognize that it’s a finite strength in any given moment. Spend your willpower for things that really matter. For instance, don’t squander it on declining a cookie if you’ll need it to complete an important task. Except…well, see Tip 4.
- Feed it. Willpower is an energy-hungry activity. I know, I know…what about that cookie? An apple or an orange will give your brain the glucose it needs to fuel willpower, without the refined sugar and extra calories.
- Clean up your desk. Really…studies have found that people exhibit more willpower and self-control in a tidy environment. I’m not making this up.
- Take your willpower out daily for an easy spin. It turns out that exercising your brain on small acts of willpower helps to build the muscle, much like exercising your body builds muscle over time. If resisting the cookie in Tip 1 is a modest (versus a serious) exercise in self-control, then doing it may well help you build your willpower muscle.
- Create the right environment. Get rid of everyday in-your-face temptations. In other words, turn off your Facebook notifications, and leave that bag of potato chips on the grocery shelf, where it can’t become an urgent, in-the-moment temptation at home.
- Decide to exercise willpower in small doses. Commit to just 5 minutes of walking every day instead of 30 minutes. If procrastination is your biggest willpower struggle, agree to spend just 5 minutes on the task at hand, rather than committing to the hours it will take to actually complete it. Setting modest time limits makes even the toughest willpower challenge feel more manageable.
For more on these ideas, check out a magazine column I wrote: http://mollyrosecoaching.com/articles.
C’mon, use your willpower—give me a call and we’ll talk about how I can help you strengthen yours. 608 770 7076