Are you considering a new diet regime? Are you hoping to intensify your gym attendance? Are you trying to quit smoking? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the key to your success will largely lie within your willpower.
Much like a muscle, willpower can be strengthened with dedication and training. Don’t miss these 10 helpful ideas for honing your willpower, self-control, and commitment to your health:
#1. Develop a Plan
Like all good journeys, the path to better willpower should start with a pen and paper. Ask yourself what you want to achieve and give yourself a deadline. Then map out a step-by-step procedure of how these progressions will fit into your schedule. Think about preparation. Consider any high-risk situations you may be facing in the near future. What approach will you take if you slip up? The more detailed your answers, the better.
#2. Know Your Triggers
A large part of the planning process is to recognize the danger zones. This advice is of particular importance for those who are struggling with addictive substances, such as cigarettes, alcohol, or fast food. Is there a supermarket aisle you should avoid? Is there a casino road you shouldn’t drive down? Develop strategies for avoiding unhealthy distractions and temptations.
#3. Pick Your Battles
If you have an intimidating deadline looming or an important exam to study for, now may not be the best time to give up cigarettes and ice cream. If you attempt to take on too much, your willpower can diminish quickly and you’ll experience burnout. Instead, focus all of your attention on one goal until you build a habitual routine against it, and then you can deal with another.
#4. Keep Your Glucose Levels Up
Strange but true, the brain uses 20% of your total glucose intake. This means that without proper nourishment, your mind is not functioning at its full potential, and you could be more inclined to make bad choices. Stock up on complex carbohydrates (fruit, vegetables, grains etc) for a slower burn, and consider purchasing a meter to check glucose levels prior to and after exercising especially if you’re diabetic.
#5. Get Enough Sleep
Much like glucose, your mind is not fully operational without the recommended amount of slumber, and a tired brain can’t be completely held responsible for its lack of discipline. Always get your 7 – 8 hours otherwise your willpower defense system may shut down.
#6. Challenge Yourself
Here comes the fun part! By keeping your brain on its toes, you will slowly train up your willpower until you can apply it to all aspects in your life. There have been several interesting studies on how to achieve this, and they include an awareness of posture and using your non-dominant hand for everyday tasks (such as brushing your teeth or opening doors). But remember that this needs to be a gradual process, and if you move too quickly, then your good intentions may topple over.
#7. Go Public
One of the most effective methods of forcing dedication is to involve other people, as you are much less likely to let your team down or publicly shame yourself with failure. Post your intentions on social media or join a club with like-minded individuals who have similar goals. For an additional incentive, why not throw a money wager into the mix?
#8. Note Your Successes
Inspire yourself with yourself! Anything you achieve, no matter how insignificant it may seem, should be written down. By noting your steady progress, you will be encouraged to test how much further you can push it. What’s more, if you’re ever lacking motivation, you have a quick go-to document to remind you of how great you are.
#9. Reward Yourself
Another simple way of driving your plan forward is to place lights of hope along the way. To avoid complete exhaustion, reward yourself when you reach shorter-term goals, allowing for breaks where you can watch television, enjoy some retail therapy, or perhaps even eat a slice of cake on a Friday. But be careful not to undo all of your hard work! For example, a cigarette is not an ideal celebration for quitting smoking!
#10. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
The very concept of failure means that you’re trying to achieve something, hence why any setbacks should be taken as an inevitable part of the journey. You only truly fail when you give up, so don’t worry about these stumbles. Rather dust yourself off, forgive yourself, and then start again.