Most individuals believe they could enhance their lives only if they had that unique quality known as self-control or willpower. With more self-discipline, everyone would exercise regularly, save some money for retirement, avoid alcohol and drugs, eat right and achieve all types of noble goals.
Willpower is having the ability to resist short-term temptations so as to achieve long-term goals. Other scientists define willpower as the ability to delay gratification for a particular purpose. In one form or another, people use willpower every day, whether it is resisting the craving of eating sweets or resisting the urge to browse through the internet when there is a lot of work to do.
Based on the APA’s 2011 Stress in the United States survey, the citizens believed the number one hindrance to obtaining positive behavior changes was the lack of willpower. Being able to strengthen your willpower will help you greatly in school and in different fields.
In one study, scholars who were able to delay gratification got better scores in tests and better grades, had a better opportunity to get into competitive high school program and had better attendance records. Finally, the researchers concluded that self-discipline is much more essential than IQ when one wants to achieve outstanding academic success.
Is willpower a limited resource?
It is possible to strengthen willpower overtime. However, individuals have a limited amount of willpower and it can be depleted if at some point it is overused. A growing body of research has suggested that resisting temptations repeatedly may drain stores of self-discipline.
On the other hand, researchers have a strong belief that one’s willpower can be completely exhausted. Instead, people seem to hold willpower in stores for future needs. With the right motivation, people are able to tap in those specific reserves and persist even when willpower strength has been run down.
Here are 10 Important strategies that can help you build your willpower:
1. Seek support
Research has proven that having support systems can help individuals achieve their objectives. It is advisable to surround yourself with people whom you can trust and you are sure they will be supportive of your objectives and are ready to help you succeed.
2. Fuel your willpower
Your brain runs on blood sugar or glucose. However, exerting willpower can leave brain cells devouring glucose at a faster pace. Research has suggested that feeding your brain might help restore your self-control. Taking regular meals can help maintain your blood sugar levels and help restore your willpower.
3. Reward yourself
When you achieve your goal, it is important to reward yourself for the great job that you’ve done. However, you must ensure the incentive does not conflict with the change you are attempting to make. For instance, taking a bowl of ice cream because you just lost five pounds of weight. Instead, spend time to engage in other entertaining but healthy activities.
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Zig Ziglar
4. Get enough sleep
Lack of enough sleep can affect how the body and mind uses energy, which impacts the ability to avoid temptations. If you don’t get enough sleep, your willpower is more likely to fail. On the other hand, one night of comfortable and adequate sleep can help increase self-control.
5. Monitor your behavior towards the end goal
You should make a realistic plan to meet the end objective and commit yourself ever single day to making progress towards that objective. For instance, if your objective is to reduce spending, monitor how you spend all your money.
6. Create a realistic plan
Research has suggested that having a realistic plan in place can help you resist temptations without necessarily having to draw on self-discipline. You should decide earlier how you can react to situations that are likely to fail willpower. For instance, someone monitoring their alcohol intake might decide before a party, “If anyone gives me a drink, then I will request for a soda containing lime.” By having a plan ahead of time, you will be able to derive decisions in the moment without necessarily having to draw on willpower.
7. Avoid temptations
In order to maintain self-discipline, it is important to resist temptations. It can be helpful to avoid temptation at any cost. You should ensure you keep temptations out of sight or at least out of the house. This specific “out of sight, out of mind” strategy works effectively for all types of scenarios. For instance, it is important to have a learning environment that is conducive for learning with minimal distractions.
8. Focus on one objective at a time
Psychologists have discovered that it is more effective to simply focus on a single, clear objective instead of taking a list of objectives at once. If you succeed at the first objective, you will free your willpower so that it can be dedicated to the next objective. It is advisable to work on one behavior at a time for instance setting 20 minutes aside each single day to study for upcoming tests.
9. Think you can
How you think about self-discipline itself is significant. In one study, researchers discovered that people who think self-discipline is a resource that is limited are more likely to have self-discipline issues compared to those who think of it as easily exhausted.
“Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.” – Clint Eastwood
10. Identify sources of motivation
Are you trying to achieve your educational goals because someone else is pushing you? Or maybe you want to achieve those goals because of your own personal desires? Research has shown that people pleasures have a difficult time with self-discipline compared to individuals who are driven by their own desires and goals.