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8 Simple Methods to Boost Your Willpower and Self Control

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Surely if you’ve ever tried helping someone quit smoking, odds are that you will hear the word “will” spoken in the first 5 minutes. Aside from the popular procrastinating sentence: “I will quit smoking next year”, you might hear a smoker say: “It takes a lot of willpower to give up on cigarettes”. What do you think is the reason that most people quit smoking? Is it because they don’t have enough willpower?

At the beginning of every year, you will hear a lot of discussion about New Year’s resolutions. These tend to be high hopes for the year lying ahead in the form of a list of objectives. Let’s face it, most of us feel the need to start fresh, with a new chapter in the book of our life in which we’ve learned from our past mistakes and feel ready to move on.

These thoughts can take the form of: “I’m going to stop eating fast-food” or “Next year I promise I’ll hit the gym every other day” or “By the end of next year, I’ll have learnt a new language”. The list can go on and on because, after all, setting objectives is the easiest step. However, abandoning them is also easy. So, does willpower have anything to do with it?

First, let’s examine the relationship between willpower and self-control. Roy Baumeister conducted a study in which he wanted to test the effects of forced actions (or doing something that one doesn’t enjoy) on self-control. People have a limited amount of energy dedicated to self-control. The more one consumes that energy, the harder it becomes to maintain self-control and be productive.

Baumeister pinned the term “ego-depletion” to describe the loss of self-control due to mental effort.

Willpower is the fuel that drives self-control and both could be looked at as a muscle that loses tone if you don’t exercise.

Below, are 8 things you can practice to boost your will-power and self-control:

1. Control the context in which you live

For example: You decide to quit smoking but you continue meeting your smoker friends in places where people generally smoke. With the help of your own willpower, you manage to refrain from smoking for a while. Unfortunately, refraining from smoking drains you.

You then give in to your impulses, light up a cigarette and think to yourself: “Gosh, it’s so difficult to quit smoking. I might do it someday, though.” In this scenario, if you know yourself and you’re determined to quit smoking, it’s OK to admit that you aren’t capable (yet) to meet up with people in places that you know that your willpower will be drained.

2. Build good habits

Most of the things that we do every day are done on auto-pilot, according to our habits. It may not be obvious, but if you look back, you’ll notice the things you do now are more or less the same things you did yesterday, a month or a year before.

The good news is once a habit has been formed, the new actions you take will begin forming a better more productive habit. The bad news is that when you’re stressed or run out of willpower, you turn to bad habits or actions that bring you instant gratification such as drinking alcohol or playing computer games.

3. Sleep well

Going to the gym isn’t all about exercise. You need enough sleep and nutrients to see the best results. The same goes with your willpower-muscle: if you don’t get enough sleep, your brain won’t function at optimum levels and you will find it more difficult to do what needs to be done.

4. Start early on the most difficult tasks

Willpower is a limited resource and is consumed over the course of a day. Mornings are the best part of the day to get the really boring or difficult tasks done because your energy and willpower levels are at the top.

“The early morning has gold in its mouth.” – Benjamin Franklin

5. Keep your glucose levels under control

Another experiment conducted by Dr. Baumeister identified the fact that each act of self-control causes glucose levels to drop. You can counteract loss of self-control and willpower by making sure that your blood glucose levels are optimum.

6. Take breaks often

The best way to refresh your self-control is to split your workload into small tasks. A famous method called the Pomodoro technique works wonders for a lot of people. You work for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break to recharge and repeat the process. That way, you’ll stay focused, knowing you have a limited amount of time to complete tasks you won’t be in danger of information overload.

7. Exercise

It’s no mystery that so many successful people mention exercise as one of their top daily priorities. Any type of physical activity that requires self-control and discipline is beneficial for your mental and physical health. It will also make it easier for you to be disciplined in other areas of your life.

8. Prioritize and minimize

The fewer decisions you need to make, the more willpower you will have in your “reservoir” for the activities that are truly important to you. Steve Jobs, for example, was renowned for always wearing the same clothes. When asked why he did this, he simply replied that it’s one less decision to make every day.

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” – Keri Russell

Habits take time, effort and discipline to form. One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to change their habits is to be overly proud of the “battles” they’ve won against their will and comfort. It’s important to know that if you want to be a winner in the game of life, you have to maintain balance, so you will be as ready as you can for all of life’s challenges.  

What tips do you have for managing your self-control? Let us know by commenting below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Michael Schoeff is a pet product designer and entrepreneur from Ohio. He’s failed many times before prospering from his own business and he’s done so with passion, discipline and determination. He also enjoys blogging about dog training in his spare time.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. KG

    Oct 12, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Great tips, especially the first one, “controlling the context of your life.” Thanks!

  2. Jax

    Sep 13, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Oh how I can vouch for this one “Sleep well” it was a game changer for me. 10pm to bed 5 am awake gotta thank Jocko willink for that but so far it’s been working out great for me!

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Life

Don’t Want To Feel Like A Failure Anymore? Stop Doing These 6 Things

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It’s pretty annoying isn’t it? All those great and accomplished people telling you that FAILURE is a necessity on your way to success. Yeah, that’s easy for them to say; they’re already ‘on the other side’! You on the other hand, are still struggling all day everyday to get your business lifted off the ground and are really not that sure if you’re indeed going to make it.

There’s that little voice in your head that keeps telling you that you don’t have the stuff to make it all happen. Not now and not ever. You feel like a failure…it’s holding you back and you don’t know how to deal with it. Well you could do yourself a favor and start dealing with it by doing the following things:

1. Stop Denying You Feel Like A Failure

Telling yourself things are going great when they’re not is one of the biggest, though most useless, coping mechanisms human beings deploy in rough times. Common denial signals among entrepreneurs: trying to regain more control by working even more hours and on the other side compensating this by letting go of all this control by partying and drinking way too hard.

What you’re doing is denying yourself the opportunity to actually feel what’s going on and acknowledge the problem; that both you and your business are in a bad place. Without acknowledging it, it’ll be pretty difficult to actually STOP feeling it. And remember, just because you feel like a failure, this does not mean that you indeed ARE a failure!

2. Stop Making It Bigger Than it Really Is

This is one of those other ‘fun’ things human beings do; we blow things way out of proportion in our heads! In business, when you lose that big client you’ve been working on for weeks, it feels like it’s the end of the world. You start doubting yourself, your strategy, your entire business model right up to the point where you barely sleep because you’re working on pivoting the whole thing.

But what if that customer simply didn’t have the money to go for your service anyway? Or what if they just decided to go for someone who is cheaper but who offers less quality? Does that mean there’s something wrong with YOU? Or that this was the ONLY customer out there and that you’re now doomed forever?

Of course not, it simply means that THIS CUSTOMER wasn’t a match. It’s a bit like dating actually…So if you take this into consideration, could it be that you just feel like a failure instead of really not succeeding in that what you want to at this point in time?

3. Stop Thinking You’re The Only One Who Feels Like This

You’re not! With the possible exception of the true sociopaths, that feeling you’re feeling is very normal to EVERYONE. It might not seem like it on the outside – because people don’t like to acknowledge this remember – but I can guarantee you that it’s true. But unlike 99% of the world’s population, YOU’RE not going to let this feeling stop you in your tracks. Are you?

4. Stop Thinking You’re Supposed To Be Superhuman

In fact, it’s very likely that you’re already doing, learning and succeeding at WAY more than most other people are. But for entrepreneurs, somehow, that never seems to be enough. You don’t just want to be successful after a few years of hard work (which is normal). You want to be successful after only a few months. Because you’re special…or at least you think you are…

Well, here’s the truth: you ARE special! But…it’s just not very likely that you’re one of those – very very rare – entrepreneurial superstars that – seemingly – just added some hot water and got instant business success as a result.

5. Stop Being So Incredibly Stubborn

Entrepreneurs are stubborn…almost by default. It’s what makes them push forward in the hardest of times. But…if you’re not doing the right things right you might just be hammering a square peg through a round hole. Which will only add to that frustrated feeling you’re already having. So why not stop being so stubborn for a moment, stop hammering away on that what obviously is not working and ask for help?

No matter who you ask – a business mentor or coach, a befriended entrepreneur – someone with a neutral perspective on you and our business will be very likely to see what’s going on with a lot more clarity than you can and can guide you to a place that will feel a whole lot more comfortable.

6. Stop Being Afraid Of Failure

I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times before and you wouldn’t be in this pickle if you could do this. Right? I’m right there with ya!

But, if you get really rational about it, what’s the worst that could happen?

  • You might have to get a ‘real’ job for a while and start over on the side;
  • You might not be able to afford your rent anymore…but with Airbnb on the 1 hand and couchsurfing on the other, you should be able to work it out somehow;
  • You’ll have all the more experience to start over a whole lot faster;
  • You’ll be no less respected by anyone because it’s clear you gave it your all;
  • In a few years, when you’re an established and supersuccessful entrepreneur you’ll also have a cool failure story to tell;
  • None of your limbs will fall off;

Now that’s not too bad for a plan B is it? Failure is such a negative word. And the associated feeling is terrible and numbing. But really…how is giving it your all and not succeeding really the same as failing? Shouldn’t the definition of failure not be along the lines of ‘not even trying’ or ‘giving up when it gets hard’?

In other words: stop beating yourself up over this!

There’s really no need to feel like a failure at all because you’re sticking your neck out, you’re trying to make a difference and you’re still moving upward on that treacherous entrepreneurial mountain.

And that…is what success REALLY is.

Those Who Failed Their Way To Success

Quotes To Live By:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie

“Success is stumbling form failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

“Don’t let success go to your head and failure to your heart” – Will Smith

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Some people will achieve great things. Others won’t. But why is that? We’re all just “talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe,” as Joe Rogan puts it. So why do some “talking monkeys” build 7 or 8 figure businesses, travel the world, and live the life of their dreams while the rest of us… well, wish we were living the life of our dreams. (more…)

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