Step 6 - Strengthen your willpower
I’ll get in shape this year, I won’t eat as much candy as last week, I want to start my own business.
Willpower is about three things: I will, I won’t, I want.
Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct (must read) defines willpower as ‘the ability to do what you really want to do when part of you really doesn’t want to do it.’
I really want to get in shape this year, but I really really really want to eat this candy right now. To me, willpower is all about systematically letting your actions reflect what you really want in the long term as opposed to what you sort of want in the short term.
Luckily for us, willpower is like a muscle that can be trained. Strengthening your willpower will improve many other aspects of your life. Let’s for a second revert to the cliché ‘research has shown that’ kind of stuff. Research has shown that willpower is a great predictor of happiness, life expectancy, results in school and so much more. This makes sense, someone with stronger willpower will choose to study instead of watching tv, will do the dishes instead of sit in the couch and the list goes on.
So what do we know:
- Willpower is something that will improve your life
- Willpower is like a muscle and can be trained
Just like a muscle can run out of energy, you can run out of willpower. You will never have an indefinite ‘supply’ of willpower in a day - too bad - but there are some things you can do to get the most out of it.
Tips for maximizing your willpower
- Get enough sleep,
- Take some time every day to relax and think without doing anything else. Try meditating (seriously, we were sceptic at first too)
- Do the important stuff early in the day before you run out of willpower