How many times have you said to yourself, “Why did I do that? Why don’t I have more control over myself?” It seems to happen whenever we do something to give ourselves short-term pleasure at the expense of long-term pain.
Overeating, spending money that should never been spent, staying up too late, procrastinating, and being lazy are all good examples of the types of behaviors that cause us to wish we had more willpower.
Research has shown that willpower is a limited resource. It only lasts in the short-term, and other strategies are required in the long-term. But, willpower is still very useful in the appropriate circumstances.
Try these tips to give you more self-control over your behavior:
ONE: Plan ahead for your periods of low self-control. Be smart. If you know you tend to overeat at night, perhaps you could have several healthy snacks available when you inevitably get the munchies. Maybe having a larger breakfast will make the evening hours easier.
- Look at your past behavior and expect that you’re going to act the same way in the future.
- Either figure out a way to prevent the situation from occurring in the first place or put some strategies in place to successfully navigate the situation.
- Remember successful individuals are good about not repeating their mistakes.
TWO: The more you use your willpower, the more willpower you will have to use. Think of willpower as a muscle. By pushing yourself to use your willpower on a regular basis, your willpower muscle will get stronger.
- For example, not having a piece of cake when you really want one or pushing yourself to clean the garage will make your will power muscles stronger.
- Every day, find some unpleasant tasks and complete them. These can be simple things like cleaning the house, washing the dishes, or making those unpleasant but necessary phone calls. It really does get easier with time.
- Congratulate yourself. Every time you are successful in using your will power, be happy and grateful that you have so much self-control. Perhaps a small reward is in order from time to time.
- You’re probably good at being hard on yourself when your will power falters. Be just as diligent at making yourself feel good when successful.
THREE: Eat healthy. Studies have shown low blood sugar can dramatically decrease willpower. Your brain simply needs a certain amount of glucose available for maximum self-control.
- Ask yourself if you’re eating in a way that promotes low blood sugar.
- Exercise can increase insulin sensitivity, which will help to maintain blood glucose levels. Not only is exercise good for your health, but it’s also great for your willpower too.
- Cut back on simple sugars and processed carbohydrates. They can also wreak havoc on your blood sugar.
- The next time your willpower is faltering, consider having a piece of fruit or other appropriate snack. This might be all you need to get back on track.
Being successful long-term requires forethought and planning. The way you’ve behaved in the past is a great predictor of the future. Unless something has changed, you shouldn’t expect a different result.
If you couldn’t lift 300 lbs yesterday, you shouldn’t expect to be able to lift it today. If possible, avoid situations that will overwhelm your willpower.
Always remember that willpower is a short-term resource used to plow through any challenge you might be facing. It is not a long-term solution. For the long-term, it’s helpful to establish new habits that support what you desire.
Everyone wishes for more willpower. By following these three tips, your willpower is sure to increase. Start improving your willpower today and you’ll enjoy the benefits forever.