Understanding Your Willpower

Many people believe they could improve their lives if only they had more of that mysterious thing called willpower. With more self-control we would all eat right, exercise regularly, avoid temptations, be in better control of our time and finances, stop procrastinating and achieve all sorts of noble goals. We see regularly that our client’s cite lack of willpower as the No. 1 reason for not following through in making healthy lifestyle changes.

At its essence, willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals, to employ a “cool” cognitive system of behaviour rather than a “hot” emotional system. It is a conscious regulation of one’s self by oneself.

But what is often NOT understood is that willpower is a limited resource capable of being depleted. Ever wonder why your resolve to hit the gym weakens after you’ve slogged through a soul-sapping day at work? It’s because willpower isn’t just some storybook concept; it’s a measurable form of mental energy that runs out as you use it, much like the fuel in your car.

Some studies have even suggested that willpower is fuelled by glucose—which helps explain why our determination crumbles when we try to lose weight. When we don’t eat, our glucose drops and our willpower along with it. It’s called the dieter’s catch-22, in order to not eat, you need willpower. But in order to have willpower you need to eat!

No Yes

So, what to do about it?

Since it’s a finite resource, don’t spread yourself thin, make one resolution rather than many. And if you manage to stick with it by, say, not drinking for a week, give your willpower a rest by indulging in a nice dinner. Accept the fact that you cannot fight everything, you are not that bullet-proof, master-of-your-own-destiny that you think you are. Be kind to yourself and prioritise what matters, let the rest find its own path. Another tactic is to outsource self-control, let us help with your nutrition, set a fixed plan, know what you are GOING to do in advance, book your gym sessions.

People with the best self-control aren’t the ones who use it all day long. They’re people who structure their lives so they conserve it. That way, you’ll be able to stockpile vast reserves for when you really need it, like getting that amazing body you know is in there!

You Can Do This!