Improving Your Will Power
Ahhhh, willpower that wondrous superpower that some people seem to be born with, while us mere mortals struggle with every decision we make, constantly resisting the urge of that instantaneous dopamine hit (dopamine being your feel good hormone) v’s the long term satisfaction of reaching that big ass goal that you keep on dreaming about having.
Whether that it is saying:
No to that mid-afternoon chocolate bar
Quitting the fags
Opting to study or work instead of another Netflix binge
Saying no to unnecessary spending
OR saying YES to
Getting up earlier and cultivating a morning routine
Starting a new workout programme
Getting out of your own way and start doing that thing that scares you
Increasing your savings
Forcing yourself to say no, when every ounce of your being is screaming out, just chill, treat yourself, you are happy as you are. Aren’t you??
Or saying YES to the things you know you could be doing to grow forward, even when you don’t always feel like it.
Each one of those decisions to say yes or no at the relevant times will come down to your level of willpower or self discipline.
Although I believe that there is a very fine balance between allowing yourself the flexibility and fun of being able to indulge and truly enjoy the things that you want in life, and being able to stay strong enough when it really matters.
You will often find yourself with a greater power of will in some areas of life that others.
In my experience, I have pretty strong willpower when it comes to working out consistently, eating fairly healthily or getting work done
Though when it comes to avoiding the sweet cupboard or saying no to beers at the weekend my will leaves a little more to be desired.
But fear not my weak willed friends, it turns out that willpower or self discipline is much like a muscle, CAN be trained, charged up and maximised. Meaning that with practice it can be strengthened and improved.
Hurrah, there is hope for us all yet!!
However, like a muscle it can also be drained, depleted and wiped out.
Here are the top willpower weakeners that you need to be aware of if you want your willpower to suck less.
1# – Self Criticism
Study after study shows how self criticism leads to less motivation and lower self control. You see you guilt and shame yourself in an attempt to create change, yet a lot of the research shows that is has the opposite effect. Instead it leads you to wanting to cover up the feelings of guilt and shame with a instant fix of feel good. Cue a tub of ice cream, glass of wine, netflix, bunking off the workout etc etc
Action Step: Practice more kindness, self compassion and self love. Give yourself a break when your willpower is challenged and look for ways to charge back up your willpower muscles.
#2 – Stress
Stress leads your body into being in flight or fight response, which in turn drains your energy and robs you of your ability to make rational or ‘good goal aligned’ decisions. When you are in stress mode you decrease your ability to practice self control, as you go into a state of fixating on and seeking out rewards. As a result people who are chronically stressed are far more likely to reach for comfort food, alcohol, smoke, browse the internet or even gamble. Which FYI are the least effective stress relief strategies available.
Action step: Be mindful of your stress levels and practice stress busting activities regularly, such as: Deep breathing, meditation, walking in nature, yoga, reading, get a massage, dedicated ‘you’ time, spending time with people you love and who make you feel loved. There are many more but you get the idea.
#3 – Hunger
I think we have all experienced the feelings of being hangry, right?? Where you are so hungry that you could literally eat someone’s arm off. You feel irritable, anxious, not to mention grumpy AF and you just need something and you need it NOW!!
Imagine having to make a sensible ‘good’ choice during this time. It would be near impossible, even for the strongest willed person.
There is a growing amount of research that indicates, exercising willpower throughout the day takes its toll on our mentality and brain function. Glycogen is the brain’s source of fuel, and at times when it’s depleted, your thinking, mood, ability to learn or remember things can be weakened. Then adding on the challenge of having to exercise willpower further depletes the brain of this fuel. This can leave us constantly looking to balance out those blood sugar levels and reducing your ability to rely on willpower.
All in all, if you are hungry it’s going to be sooo much harder to make the ‘right’ decision that is aligned with your long term goal. Meaning your willpower will suck.
Action step – Manage blood sugar levels by eating whole foods regularly and avoiding high sugar and simple starches that will spike blood sugar levels and cause a bigger dip. For better willpower work on balancing your blood sugar levels throughout the day.
There are the top 3 culprits that will suck you of all your good intentions and make your willpower seem like a never ending battle that you are always destined to lose.
There are a whole host of willpower ‘boosting’ activities as well that you should be awar of if you want to maximise your willpower. These boosting activities will help you flex and optimise your willpower muscles and in turn help you to remain on track with your goals.
Imagine if you could stay the course, have unwavering willpower and self discipline, but also to feel good and empowered by your decision making.
What would it actually mean to your life if you actually achieved that goal you have been dreaming about for so long.
This week over in the Shine Squad we have been laying out the top willpower boosting strategies and how you can easily implement them more often in your life
Use this knowledge this week in helping you to avoid depleting your willpower stores as you keep on working towards your goals and intentions for July.
Have a great week