Willpower has been the subject of many research studies. These studies show that willpower can be developed with the proper exercises. Building willpower takes time. But willpower gives you the ability to direct your life, resist unproductive urges, and take appropriate action.
Develop your willpower with these proven techniques:
- Learn to manage stress more effectively. When willpower is called into play, there are two opposing forces: The desire to either do something or to avoid something, and the option of doing something. The greater the stress caused by this internal conflict, the more willpower you need to take the more appropriate action.
- Stress depletes willpower. Stress can also cause you to choose the option with the greater short-term rewards, regardless of the long-term consequences. This means eating that donut, or sitting on the couch instead of filing your taxes.
- By learning to lower your stress levels, you increase both the amount of willpower available to you and the effectiveness of that willpower.
- Exercise. Those that exercise experience less stress. Less stress means more willpower.
- Diet. A healthy diet has also been shown to enhance willpower.
- Make your own deadlines. Pledge to clean out the garage by Saturday afternoon. Or decide that you’ll complete your taxes by March 15th. Studies have shown this to be an effective way to build willpower.
- Create positive habits, one by one. Create a small, positive habit. For example, do one pushup after brushing your teeth. You don’t need much willpower to do a single pushup. Then you can build on what you’ve done.
- Habits don’t build willpower. They circumvent the need for it.
- Boost your mood. Watch a funny movie. Think about something that makes you happy. You’ll have more willpower at your disposal.
- Get more sleep. Too little sleep impacts the part of the brain responsible for decision-making. Strive to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
- Meditate. Meditation is especially popular these days. Studies have shown it to enhance stress-management and focus. It has also been shown to increase willpower. Practicing meditation for only a couple of months can provide a significant change in your ability to control your behavior.
- Practice. Your reserve of willpower may be limited, but you can learn to maximize what you have. Forcing yourself to continue when you feel like stopping is one of the easiest ways to build your willpower muscles.
- Imagine that you want to stop cleaning the house, or writing a report, or exercising. Instead of allowing yourself to quit, force yourself to continue for another 10 minutes. That’s all. After a few weeks, increase the time to 20 minutes. Pretty soon, you’ll become a master at pushing through the urge to quit.
- Pay attention to your posture. In one interesting study, it was shown that paying attention to your posture for two weeks enhanced scores on several willpower tests. What could be more simple? Whenever you catch yourself slouching, correct yourself, and stand or sit up straight.
What would you do if you had more willpower? Remember that willpower is never in abundance, but you can build your reserves. The key is to use your willpower wisely. Tackle your most important tasks early in the day when your willpower is high. Spend a small amount of time each day enhancing your willpower. A little willpower can go a long way.