Imagine if I could offer you a magic pill that promises a happier, healthier life, have stronger relationships, career success, manage your stress, resolve conflicts , and even have a longer lifespan. Would you take it? I bet you would! Now, what if I told you that you could access all these benefits without a pill, simply by strengthening your willpower?
So, What Exactly is Willpower?
At its core, willpower is the superpower that lets you decide and take action. It’s about mastering the ability to control your impulses and opt for the most empowered action you can take. So, level with me, how well do you manage your attention, emotions, and actions in this bustling world of ours?
Let’s face it; it’s no walk in the park. We live in a noisy, distraction-filled, emotionally charged world where:
- Multitasking is the norm.
- We’re glued to our phones and social media.
- Multiple tabs on our computer screens are the standard.
- Sitting still without our phones induces anxiety!
The truth is all this noise weakens our willpower – it’s our kryptonite. But here’s the good news: scientists have discovered that willpower is like a muscle; it can be strengthened through practice. You can start small, building your willpower muscle one step at a time.
It’s the Habit of Empowered Choices
The essence of willpower lies in choosing the more challenging option over the easiest one. It’s about slowing down and asking yourself, “What would my most empowered self do in this situation?” Start with the simplest of tasks, like tidying up before bed, making your bed in the morning, choosing a morning run, or opting for a healthier café meal. Each time you do this, you’re pumping up your willpower muscle, just like a gym workout.
Think of it as having two voices in your head:
- Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – craving instant gratification with zero self-control.
- Hermione Granger from Harry Potter – embodying level-headedness, delaying gratification for bigger goals, and staying calm amidst chaos.
Every day, these two voices engage in a mental tug-of-war over your willpower. Can you resist the allure of immediate rewards for the sake of long-term gains?
3 Strategies to Boost Your Willpower
1. Pause and Plan
Before diving headlong into action, take a moment to ponder your choices. Consider your options carefully. Take three deep breaths and mull over the long-term benefits of opting for the harder path. Listen to Aretha Franklin’s timeless hit, “Think.” What’s the best decision you can make? What would your best self do in this situation?
2. Make the Right Thing Easy, and the Wrong Thing Hard
Setting yourself up for success is key. Suppose you aim to exercise in the morning; what steps can you take to ensure it happens? Set your alarm, lay out your workout gear, and arrange to exercise with a friend. Create an environment that makes it tough to back out. Apply this principle to other positive habits you want to establish in your life, whether it’s healthy eating at work or cutting down on social media. Pre-commit to making the right choice, leaving no room for failure.
3. Track Progress, Make it Visual, and Fun
Focus on forming habits that align with your goals. Choose one habit to cultivate over the next 30 days. Keep a visual record of your progress or enlist a friend as an accountability partner. And remember, even if you stumble one day, get right back on track (recommitment is as vital as starting). Ensure you complete your habit the very next day. Monitoring your progress not only enhances your willpower but also keeps you motivated.
A Remarkable Transformation Awaits
In the words of Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct…
“Self-control is a better predictor of academic success than intelligence, a stronger determinant of effective leadership than charisma, and more important for marital bliss than empathy.”
If we aim to improve our lives, nurturing our willpower is an excellent place to start.
My advice? Begin with the smallest step to enhance your willpower and gradually work your way up. Your journey to a happier, healthier, and more empowered life begins with the decision to strengthen your willpower muscle.