Willpower is commonly thought of as something we have or don’t have. Does this sound familiar?
- “I have been so bad!”
- “I have no willpower when it comes to chocolate.”
- “I just can’t seem to stick with it!”
- “I have been so good lately; I don’t know what happened!”
- “I have no willpower. I will never be able to change.”
Willpower needs sleep, food, rest, and exercise just like the rest of your body. Here are five tips to keep your willpower muscle in tip-top shape
- Slow down. Take the time to recognize your willpower challenges. The idea is to learn when you are the most vulnerable and avoid putting yourself in that situation. Eliminate the cue to the behavior you are trying to change.
- Timing is key. If you find that you are struggling to maintain a new habit, take a closer look at what is going on at that moment. Is your goal to work out after a 10-hour workday? To help your kids with their homework, doing dishes, and folding laundry? It is going to be much harder to follow through with a new habit when fatigued. Build the skill: Journal your energy level throughout the day. When are your peaks and valleys? When do you have the most motivation to practice self-care?
- Eat real food. Just like your muscles need fuel to perform, so does your brain. Glucose converts into all those wonderful neurotransmitters that control your thoughts, feelings, and actions. A balanced diet of carbs, protein, and fat with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals will help optimize your brainpower and your willpower! Build the skill: Start a food/mood journal to track how your diet contributes to your willpower, energy level, sleep, and mood.
- Take 5: Rest is vital willpower. When we are tired, we are more impulsive, making it harder to follow through with goals. Brain and activity breaks are key! Build the skill: Take 5-minute brain breaks for every hour or two you are working. Have a willpower challenge? Try a 5-minute activity break to surf the urge.
- 5. Practice self-compassion. Life happens. Be kind to yourself when you miss the mark. It happens to everyone. And beating yourself up will further weaken your willpower muscle.
- Complete an energy audit. Complete an energy audit. Use a journal to track your energy level and engagement throughout the day. What patterns did you notice? What time of day do you have the most energy? How can you take advantage of this time to do what you need to set yourself up for success? Build the skill: Develop strategies to form new habits when you are most likely to follow through with your goals. You will be more successful engaging in a new habit when you feel the most energized.