Willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.
I put my hands up, I have said so many times that I have No Willpower. I usually utter the words while I’m filling my mouth with a large slice of cake.
The framework developed by Walter Mischel called “hot-and-cold” system explains why willpower will succeed or fail.
The cool system is the cognitive thinking, that reminds you why you shouldn’t eat that cake.
The hot system is the impulsive, emotional part, responsible for your response to certain triggers.
When willpower fails, a shiny object of your desire activates the HOT system, leaving your COOL system with the hard part of talking you back in the direction of your long term goals.
The good news is you can improve your willpower
Willpower is not an unlimited resource, though it can be strengthened it can deplete if overused or if we are stressed or unwell. So putting yourself in way of temptation is not ideal. however, research suggests that people hold willpower in reserve for future demands.
The prefrontal cortex (the section of the brain behind your forehead) is responsible for your decision making, attention, behaviour and judgement. When we are under stress our brains goes into fight or flight, this is when we can make bad decisions.
Something as simple as eating a more plant-based, less-processed diet makes energy more available to brain and can improve every aspect of willpower.
Be more self aware to your thoughts, emotions, behaviours and sabotages.
Practising your new willpower will eventual serve its purpose. Make allowances for willpower depletion and get straight back on track with your plan.
How To Strengthen Your Willpower
- Research has proved that a good mood can overcome some willpower-depletion, this can be from a comedy or surprise gifts.
- Out of sight out of mind, avoid temptations where possible, this includes peer pressure.
- Plan ahead, Practice “if-then”, for example, if your watching your alcohol intake and you have a party you’ve been invited to, tell yourself “if I’m offered a drink, then I’ll ask for a lemon and lime”, so that your prepared.
- Research where your going, that it caters for your needs
- Meditation and good sleep to help keep the prefrontal cortex calm, this enables good decision making
- Exercise, research has shown that regular exercise helps improve willpower in other ares.
- Don’t try to take on too many goals as this will cause willpower-depletion
- Eat regularly, research has shown that willpower depletion is linked to glucose. Eat healthy and regularly to maintain blood-sugar levels, this will refuel run down willpower
- Make a plan, have a strategy and make it a life change as opposed to a short term plan