Research has shown that willpower is driven by two main factors:
1. Your Goals
The way you think affects how much willpower you have. If you set specific, specific goals, like “I’m going to blog more,” you’ll have a lot more willpower.
2. Your Prior Behavior
Distractions and temptations affect willpower. As a good example, when your willpower is low, you’ll have trouble resisting a second doughnut after your first one is gone. Conversely, willpower is very high in the face of compulsion (say, a craving for French fries).
How to Strengthen Willpower?
If you’ve figured out that willpower is driven by your goals and your prior behavior, you might not have a problem. Focused on what you need to accomplish, you’ll find the willpower you need to resist temptations and do all of your goals. To turn willpower into a habit, try these simple strategies:
1. Get organized. Make a schedule that includes everything you plan to do for the day, and make sure you don’t forget any of it. It will really set your mind free from the day to day chaos and routine.
2. Start setting goals for the day you will accomplish and not just the one you made yesterday. Write them down in a notebook or list them on a calendar—there’s nothing wrong with putting it in a place where you tend to build up the goals in this list.
3. Pick the hardest thing to accomplish in your day and focus on that. Then give that everything. If you accomplish that, then you have more willpower and motivation to accomplish that next portion of the day, instead of being a slave to your to-do list.
4. Keep a diary of your willpower. Write down when you do and don’t accomplish certain tasks (you probably tend to forget which are important and which aren’t). It is also useful to track what you snack on, when you go to sleep, when you go to the bathroom, and so on. Make a list. There are no wrong answers here. You just need to know yourself and what triggers your willpower.
5. Setting goals is a great thing. You should make a list of the things you want to achieve in the next day or week. Then, you will be better at achieving those goals and more motivated to do productive things throughout the day as well.
6. It is also important to figure out what you can achieve. Find an end goal that you are aiming for, and then you will be able to measure your progress. If you are motivated, you will already have the willpower to complete the goal. All you need to do is to set a goal. Instead of thinking about how far you are, you need to be thinking about the end point of the goal you want.
7. Self-belief is one of the greatest assets to facing fear, temptations and emergencies. Every day, look at how well you are doing compared to the day before. If you are doing better than the day before, this means you improved that day. This is a definite sign of greater self-confidence.
We all start off with very little self-belief. Maybe you were bullied in your youth and never got over it. Or, maybe you are shy, and you believe that about yourself as well. All you need to do is to change your thought process and put more effort in, or else you will shy away from challenges in the future. Having no self-belief is one of the most unproductive mindset I’ve ever witnessed.
8. Distance Yourself
As you get more and more comfortable with interacting with people, it may start to feel like you’re always “on the phone.” Try not to think about it. When you do “have to” talk, make it private and urgent.
9. Read More
You become the expert on the topic of willpower, so why not become the guide? You don’t have to spend hours researching willpower studies to know a great many of the basic facts. You don’t need to write a dissertation on willpower. Just make sure you know just enough to help you stay on track.
10. Stay off Social Media and YouTube
Studies show that spending time on Facebook and YouTube is detrimental to your mental well-being. They also show that spending time on these sites makes you feel more anxious and can actually have an adverse effect on your mental health.
11. Spend Time with Pets and/or Animals
Although studies show that many people have better mental health when they spend time with family, friends, and pets, animals introduce a host of life challenges without destroying your social life. Animal experiences also help to cement our connection with the natural world. Take Jane Goodall’s description of meeting the gorilla Yum Yum in the wild: “I think my mind was not really prepared for that. It becomes a completely different aspect of your existence; it makes meeting a human being seem almost impersonal in comparison.”
Besides boosting willpower, exercise also helps to strengthen your mind-body connection. The endorphins that are released when you exercise remind your brain that it’s not alone. Exercise also increases your physical health, which helps to give you more willpower.
13. Get Good Sleep
Researchers have found clear links between sleep and better health. Sleeping well can give you a mental boost, which can in turn help you build your willpower.
Some people fight sleep. Most people, however, enjoy it. It is estimated that 15% of adults are chronically sleep deprived in the U. S. This lack of sleep can have life and relationship-ending consequences. The problem is that many choose to fight sleep because they’re afraid of becoming just a “bigger person” if they don’t get enough. Sleep deprivation can also have a cancer-like effect during pregnancy when it depletes the hormones that help nourish fetal life.
The need for sleep is something that is built into our biology. When the body is deprived of sleep, it goes into a “sleep-like state” that can have catastrophic consequences for our mental and physical health.
Lack of sleep combines with a cheaper, less-healthy diet that is also prevalent in a lot of people’s minds, and the combination can lead to poorer mental and physical health.