Strengthen your Willpower!

Willpower has been credited for everything from diet success to smoking and alcohol quitting programs. Many studies have been conducted and describe the phenomenon as “self-control strength” or even a “self-control muscle”.

While some scoff at the notion that there is such a force, it’s hard to deny its existence. We all have been born with free will. Free will is an undeniable and inaliable human right.

When we exercise self-control, we’re demonstrating what makes us different from the other creatures on earth.

It’s through hard work and determination that we’re able to exercise our willpower muscle and make it stronger.

Take, for example, the infamous “sweet tooth”.

Most people like sugary treats, yet some are able to eat a moderate portion while others of us tend to empty the candy bowl! 

Does that make us a victim of a “sweet tooth” or does it show a lack of willpower?

A doctor in London did a study on willpower and weight loss. During his study he found that a person’s will can be strengthened through practice, visualization, and even….temptation.

He worked with a lady that couldn’t resist the local bakery and their delectable treats. Eventually, she got to the point where she not only avoided the daily treats, but she would still visit the bakery each day and get nothing but a cup of coffee. She ended up losing over 100 pounds. 

So how did she succeed? She strengthened her willpower. She took control of an unhealthy urge and chose to change the negative habit that was robbing her of her life. Willpower is not an imaginary force…it is very real…and we can take steps in our life to harness its power.

"Strength does not come from physical capacity.

It comes from an indomitable will."

Mahatma Gandhi

Take a minute and think of one habit that you’d like to change, or one goal that you’d like to achieve. Just pick ONE. Picking too many goals can be overwhelming and lead to disappointment and burn-out. Have a goal in mind? Great! Try going through the tips below…

  • Visualize Success
    Some call it “following their dreams” while others may call it a “mental rehearsal”. If you want to lose weight, picture yourself going through the efforts to lose weight…and eventually getting there: the glasses of water instead of soda…the fruit instead of junky snacks…the evening walks, etc… Picture it all. By mentally projecting where we want, we’re giving ourselves a mental roadmap to follow. When we visualize our future success, we start to believe in it…and we start to believe in our self.
  • Exercise Control
    Now that we’ve pictured ourselves reaching our goal, it’s time to take the physical steps to get there. If your goal is to cut back on afternoon snacking, replace the habit with another one. For example, instead of going to the office vending machine try packing an apple or bag of cereal. If your goal is to start running, make a realistic plan (see 10-week plan on preceding link). Next, put your clothes at the foot of your bed for tomorrow morning. Strengthening our willpower involves taking control of life’s habits…one at a time. We need to prove to ourselves that we’re not along for the ride, but rather that we’re in control of our life!
  • Repetition & Practice
    The first day on a diet or the first workout can feel like a daunting task. You’re entering new territory. And sometimes this experience can be tough to handle, as the hunger pangs or sore muscles try to coax us back into our old habits & routine. Resist the urge. Our willpower will constantly get challenged by the temptations of our old lifestyle. You can combat these temptations, by mentally deferring them. Example: “I’ll try running until I get to the end of this 10-week schedule and then see how I feel”. The more you flex your self-control muscle as you diet and exercise, the more confidence you’ll gain. You’ll also notice that the person staring back at you in the mirror is starting to look a lot more like the person that you want to be.
  • Positive Attitude
    The final willpower booster is hard to quantify…it can propel with you to your goal with a breath of determination…or derail your efforts with a sigh of pessimism. A big part in believing in ourselves is a positive outlook. Positive things happen to positive people. It does not pay to wallow in self-pity. If you fall off the “wagon”, get back up and try again. If we are truly determined to succeed, we must view things in a positive light; forgive ourselves when we falter; and keep our heads held high as we try again…and again. You’ll only get there if you keep going.

Willpower…motivation…determination…all of these can be nurtured, strengthened, and fortified to give us an inner source of energy like no other. And someday when you reach your goal (which you will), you may just find that this source of energy can be used to not only invigorate yourself, but to help encourage those around you to succeed as well!

The man who thinks he can
By Walter D. Wintle

If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t
If you like to win, but think you can’t,
It is almost certain you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you are out classed, you are,
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can. 

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