Ever felt helpless before? When you know you’re doing the wrong thing but you can`t keep off it. Alcohol, drugs, food, laziness and tens of hours wasted on meaningless things. You know you should stop, but you can`t.
Broken promises, missed opportunities, and low self esteem all are by products of low self control. But, what if you could flip this indecisiveness and helplessness upside down and double your willpower with simple, applicable steps?
Well, it is possible. All you need is a strategy to multiply your willpower even by 10% and every impossible will become possible. How?
Use the following 7 tested, super-helpful tips:
1. Get a rule book
A rule book is notebook or a Word file where you collect the advice you want to follow. The notes you take about life and the quotes you wish to live by. Leonardo Da Vinci used this technique to boost both his creativity and self discipline leaving more than 7,000 pages full of quotes, affirmations and analysis of mistakes he made and wanted to fix.
To boost willpower spend ten minutes each morning revising and memorizing the rules you`ve freely chosen to live by and collected in your book. Soon you’ll start altering your behaviors to better ones without relying much on willpower
2. Focus on one thing
Narrow your focus as much as possible and work on only one big goal at a time, Bruce Lee was correct when he said, “the successful warrior is just an average man with a laser-like focus.”
In one study, researchers found that college students who tried to chase new goals, quit bad habits or learn new skills during the exam period, not just failed at their quest, but also did badly academically. When they were supposed to study hard they highlighted a notable drop in willpower and a strong desire to waste time, eat, and drink more. Worse, they almost lost the desire to study.
The takeaway? Focus on one big goal and dedicate all your resources towards achieving it (including your dreams and money). By doing this you’ll harness all your powers in one place and it will be much easier for you to stay persistent at difficult times rather instead of spreading yourself too thin.
“The successful warrior is just an average man with a laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee
3. Gradually toughen up
Even the smallest act of persistence done consistently will affect your willpower in the long run. In one study, two weeks of working on their posture increased the willpower of a group of participants who saw themselves become more punctual all from a simple act of self-discipline repeated frequently.
So what to do? Find something that will slightly test your willpower, and make a habit out of it. Spend 10 seconds under cold water whenever you finish a hot bath, ditch the elevator when going to work, wait half a minute before eating delicious meals, or do 10-20 pushups every morning. Small, yet consistent, habits like these will help make you tougher on the long term.
4. Eat and sleep for a stronger mind
Don’t neglect the effect of bad sleeping and eating habits on your willpower. In one study, researchers found that the decisions made by judges in parole courts were significantly influenced by how hungry/filled a judge is. Judges were 65% more likely to release a criminal on parole either early in the morning after breakfast or later after lunch breaks.
Neuroscientists also found that adults with inconsistent bedtimes lack proper persistence, lose focus frequently, make sloppy decisions and react emotionally to stressful situations. The takeaway? Eat enough calories, don’t make critical decisions on an empty stomach, and sleep between 7-9 hours at night to avoid wrecking your willpower.
5. Get reckless
When a ceramic professor chose to play the quality-VS-quantity game with his students, he found that those who were asked to deliver X pounds of pots by the end of the semester not only met their target, but their pots looked much better than those of their peers who were asked to deliver just one perfectly looking piece to get an A.
What does this mean? The first step to learn any skill is focusing on how often, rather than how well, you practice this skill. Rather than seeing yourself as a loser who can’t learn anything (which kills self-esteem), aim to practice for X minutes/hours each day for several weeks before judging yourself. You will do well, and the little perfectionist inside you will no longer harm you.
“I’ve never been reckless – it’s always calculated. I’m mischievous, but I’m calculated.” – Drake
6. Be productive for short periods
All frustrations come when it has been 4 or 5 hours since you woke up and you realize you’ve done nothing important.
If you chronically procrastinate and need a smooth slide into productivity then keep every ounce of focus you have on maintaining two hours of focused work every work day. No matter how “weak” you think you are, you still can work 1 or 2 hours straight without distractions or checking your phone.
Get a calendar and mark each day you stick to this habit. Within 3-4 weeks your productivity will pop up, guaranteed.
7. Distract and schedule
There are two great techniques for tricking your mind to persist when needed. The first one is to use distractions to keep your mind off temptations and short-lived gratifications. In the famous marshmallow experiment done by Stanford, the kids scoring high on willpower used napping and toys to stay candy-free until the end of the experiment.
The second one is to schedule what can’t be done right away. If you can’t do something right now, schedule it and don`t think about until its time comes. Develop this skill and you will exceptionally limit that inner voice urging you to procrastinate.
Are these tips helpful in improving your willpower? Please leave your thoughts below!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com.