Archive for March, 2014

The Truth About: Willpower

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

It’s now March and it is the time when people are looking to do a “spring clean” on their lives. With the changing habits, the healthier lifestyles and perhaps a decision to keep the cobwebs around the house at bay, the factor I most hear attributed to the failure of reaching goals is willpower- that magic ingredient needed to fuel the process of change, development and progress.

But what is willpower?

Willpower is often easier to spot in other people, as it is well known that it is difficult for one to see and appreciate their own virtues, than those of others.

Do you know that person who always seems to be in great control of their life? They get up early, eat well, work hard, go to the gym and seem to just have so much in order and even have time left at the end of the day to relax? These people have the wonderful virtue of trained and well honed willpower.

And have you ever tried to mimic these people by deciding, from that moment on, that you are going to get everything in order and be just like them from that moment on? Has that ever gone well?

The key is that they have trained themselves, whether deliberately or subconsciously, to have strong and well portioned willpower.

Psychologists have found that willpower is actually a resource that can be expended and replenished. Think of it like a tank that can be emptied and refilled. If you use your willpower well, you will run out slower than if you overload yourself or use it up in the wrong ways. It is also like a muscle that you can make stronger by proper exercise, and also damaged by improper use.

Here are some of the factors that affect loss of willpower:

Worries – people have problems in their lives, but learning to handle them with minimal worry could go a long way to improve your mood and keep your willpower going strong.

Stress – Life can be busy and difficult at times without being stressful. Stress is a response that you have to choice whether or not to use. Stress rarely helps anything, so learning how to keep it at bay will help you improve your willpower or discipline. Stress makes is so much harder to stick to your goals as you are already being tried by your mood. Try to relax and you’ll feel much better.

Forgetting – With willpower, it is mostly about working towards goals, so it is vital to remember why you need strong willpower and what it is that is inspiring you. Is it the perfect body? A fuller bank account? A healthier lifestyle? Don’t let yourself lose sight of your goals.

Lack of focus – It is easy to slip on one, then two, then all of your goals when you aren’t paying enough attention to what you are doing. Aiming to eat healthy is a good goal, but it takes focus to make sure you stay on track. Going to the gym is the plan until you forget and realise you’ve been on the couch for hours. I am guilty of losing focus too, and I know it is one of my biggest flaws. You can have true and dedicated intentions, but just forget. It happens, but you can change it.

Sleep – Psychologists say that the thing that replenishes willpower the most is sleep. You need to get enough sleep in order to refill your willpower tank. Bear in mind that for many, it will take at least a little of that willpower to get out of bed early, so you need to make sure you refill the tank enough first.

 

These things, and many more, all play a part in your willpower levels. Some may seem a little pointless, but trust me they all have an effect!

Make sure you are staying aware of everything you are spending your willpower on. Are you playing video games so late that you forget to take the trash out the night before the garbage truck comes by, causing you to have to sneak out in the middle of the night? Are you eating junk snacks that are no good for you, which damage your immune system and the money in your wallet, while you could eat a healthier snack that will actually fill you with the nutrients your body is asking for when you get hungry?

Figuring out what you and your body need will go a long way to supporting and building up your willpower and it has been suggested by studies that a lot of willpower is related to diet and the need for certain things.

For example, craving chocolate of junk food is very often a mixed signal from your body saying that you need more protein. And good protein (not big macs)!

Maybe find some healthy high-protein foods to eat instead, such as eggs, cheese, soya or meat.

I find that I am at my strongest and most disciplined when I am eating right and taking the right vitamins, so you may want to do some research on a diet that is right for you.

 

I hope this helps you to maximise your willpower! If you have any further questions or comments, please comment! X

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