When willpower weakens, there are tactics that can help strengthen your resolve and renew resources of self-discipline.
Just a few months into the new year many of us have already broken those annually-made resolutions. Maybe we promised to lose a few pounds, stop smoking, or correct some bad habit we’ve been fighting for years. So often, our willpower weakens in the face of a favourite temptation. Is there a way to improve it and find more resolve?
Self-discipline is a psychological resource, and like any other resource it can be depleted. But the good news is that it can also be renewed! Think of it as a muscle: with use, it can be strengthened and improved.
Whatever the vice, the best immediate help is to have a zero-tolerance policy on temptations. If chocolate is your Achilles’ heel, do not keep it in your house. If it’s readily available, your willpower is in jeopardy. By removing the temptation, you won’t have to put it to the test.
Scientists have proven that low blood glucose is associated with diminished self-discipline. Stabilizing your blood sugar will help improve your willpower! Avoid foods that quickly turn to glucose in your body; this produces insulin, which then causes glucose levels to plummet — in other words, a “sugar rush” quickly followed by a crash. You may need to call on your reserves of willpower to avoid sugary treats that will further erode your self-discipline.
Focus on small tasks that are part of the bigger picture. Exercise your willpower to stay on goal for just today. Build on that success by repeating it for one more day. A day at a time builds the pattern of success and accomplishment, and exercising your willpower is similar to exercising a muscle. Strength builds through repetition.
Focus on your purpose. Have your goal written down and look at it every single day. Make it your mantra and remind yourself of it often. It’s also helpful not to stress. Stress can derail the best intentions, so do what you can to manage it… meditation and yoga can help centre and relax you. As you focus on your main goal, it’s smart to eliminate some of those extra commitments that put you in a time crunch or distract you from your purpose. Look at what’s important in your life right now and allow yourself the time to deal with it. In our busy lives, overscheduling is the norm and stress is a by-product. Willpower is depleted if we are low on positive emotional experiences. Feeling happy and relaxed is a good boost to your willpower.
Manage stress, get enough sleep and keep motivated. Forgive your slips and record your successes as you build your willpower to a higher level. If you have a plan for how to achieve any goal, you can counteract those times when your willpower weakens.