Willpower is kinda attractive isn’t it? It supposedly helps us:
- have better relationships
- reach our health and fitness goals
- be more successful in our careers
- look better
- feel better
- and it just helps us get shit done!!
“If only I had more willpower, I would make better decisions.”
Ahh classic willpower. We think that we have to white knuckle our way through the entire day, resisting all of our favorite foods to be successful. But willpower is actually not that strong of a tool, when ignored.
We make hundreds of decisions a day, regarding food (227 decisions on average), and even more when you add in whether or not to workout, what you should or shouldn’t say, decisions at work, decisions about what street to take, etc. By the end of our day, our willpower is exhausted! Yet we are on relying on it to keep us on track.
It is no wonder that many people claim their number one struggle is eating late at night. While we like to blame willpower, the truth is, depending on what habits you have in place will determine what takes over when willpower fails.
Habits are easy. They take no energy, or thought and they just become automatic. That is the stress of habits, but the beauty of them too! When have habits that are in line with your goals, it is easy and automatic too! I think we are a bit misinformed when it comes to willpower, habits and how we think about and respond to temptations.
Here are 8 thing we are doing wrong and 8 ways to improve your habits by adopting a new willpower mindset.
We try not to think about what we are resisting. The more you think about what you can’t have, the more you want it. Don’t think about a green apple! What are you thinking about now? Are you trying to resist late night snacking, but you keep thinking about food, food, food?! Feel what you need to feel, but don’t believe everything your mind tells you.
We are too strict during the day. Have you ever been so strict during the day, only to wind up eating everything in sight at night. Allowing yourself strategic indulgences throughout the day, can help lead to higher satisfaction. And when your satisfaction is high you are less likely to indulge.
We punish ourselves with guilt and remorse when we can not stay on track. Science actually shows that forgiveness and self compassion are greater motivators when it comes to staying on track with health and fitness. You mess up? Acknowledge, accept and move on. Being self critical and negative is less of a motivator.
We are stressed out of our minds. Stress is the enemy of willpower. It makes you more impulsive and less likely to resist temptation. Try meditating a few minutes a day. Meditation helps develop self control which translates to other areas in your life.
We fail to make a plan. What happens when you are tempted with your favorite treat? What happens when you do not feel like working out? Prepare for when you know you will want to give in.
We skimp out on sleep. Sleep is our reset on many things, including willpower. When we do not get enough, we experience low energy, high cravings, high stress, and are more likely to make poor choices. Choices that are not inline with our goals. When bedtime rolls around put away your phones, turn off t.v.s, and create a night time ritual to help you relax.
We try to go at it alone. The more connection we feel, the more willpower we have. Working toward a common goals with someone is great for support, accountability, and improving self control.
We want everything instantly. Is it we want something or is it more that we want something NOW. When a temptation arises, try waiting 10 minutes. Typically the desire for that want, will decrease because it is less about what it is, and more about having it instantly.