If you are like me, you have always wished you had more willpower. You constantly set goals or new years resolutions but never stick to anything because you lack the “willpower”.
Here’s a way of understanding willpower that will help you keep these promises to yourself and stay on track.
You Have A Limited Amount Of Willpower Each Day – Be Careful How You Use It
When we really look at willpower we see that it is like a battery that gets drained through each decision we make. This battery is only recharged when we get a good nights sleep. Ever notice how when you don’t get a lot of sleep the night before you have almost zero willpower?
That’s because you never fully let your willpower batteries recharge, among other things of course as sleep does so much more than we are even aware of.
If you know that your willpower is like a battery and drained after every decision you make, what to wear, what to eat, what task to do and the list goes on. Knowing this means we can start structuring our day around when our willpower is at it’s peak, which is first thing in the morning.
For this reason I always try to schedule my important tasks like writing or working on an important project very early on in the day. If I am planning to exercise I also need to do this first thing otherwise it probably isn’t going to happen.
How Grocery Stores Manipulate Your Willpower
A good example of how supermarkets use your willpower against you is their store layout.
When you walk in the first section you normally go through is the healthy produce section. You get all of the things you planned on getting and you start burning through willpower as you make decision on what to get, comparing the prices and choosing the best item.
In a grocery store you have to make so many decisions that you might not be aware of having an effect on you, now you will understand.
Ever feel exhausted after clothes shopping even though all you really did was walk around looking at things?
Let’s go back to the grocery store example.
By the time you finally get to the checkout or the last few isles, you are bombarded with all the unhealthy options that many of us need willpower to resist, that can of coca cola or that chocolate bar look so good as you wait in line to pay for your shopping.
Your willpower has been burnt out and it’s harder than ever to not buy anything even though you would have been perfectly happy if you had just got what you came for, nothing else.
This is also why it’s so important not to shop hungry. You will make terrible decisions almost every time.
How Successful People Protect Their Willpower
If you look at many very successful people you will start to see that they eliminate small everyday decision wherever possible.
They don’t want to waste willpower on things like:
- Deciding what to eat
- Deciding what to wear that day
- Deciding where to put things on their schedule
So they come up with a plan or pay people to do this for them. You don’t need money to do these things, it is just more common to see in people who have money as they are usually more protective of their willpower.
You can come up with a 7 day eating plan and cook things in bulk or at least plan and have all the ingredients organized ready to go in the easiest way possible.
You can buy a few of the exact same outfits to wear everyday so you don’t make these decisions every morning.
I typically have 2 identical pairs of jeans, 1 leather jacket, 1 hoodie, 7 t-shirts, 1 belt, 1 pair of dress shoes, 1 pair of comfy walking shoes and a ton of identical socks and briefs.
Start Planning Your Day Better
If we want to start making better decisions with out willpower we should be putting our most important tasks early in the day and trying to minimise the amount of decisions we make on the basic daily stuff such as what to eat and what to wear.
You especially want to remove decisions that might make you choose something bad, if you are on a diet you don’t want to open the fridge and have to choose between the desert and the salad, do a large sweep and remove all the bad options.
If your most important goal right now is to start exercising and eating healthy, here’s how you would structure your day to make the most of your willpower.
- Wake up early in the morning and get your exercise in before work.
- Prepare your meals the night before or even a whole week in advance.
- Decide what gym clothes you will wear the night before and lay them out so you can wake up and put them on immediately. Also have everything else you will need ready and waiting.
If you think you can plan to go to the gym after work, don’t. Chances are you will not be able to do this consistently unless you LOVE the gym.
You will dread going to the gym all day, stressing you out potentially making you eat worse but more importantly just creating a bad association with the gym because you are constantly thinking negatively about it.
You will be tired, have less willpower and when someone in the office invites you out for drinks after work you have to try choose between that and the gym.
Then if you make it to the gym you’ll get home, most likely exhausted and have to prepare your meals.
If you want to win, stop setting yourself up for failure and start setting yourself up to succeed.
I wake up at 4am because that means I have 5 hours to myself every single day. That’s 5 hours before I need to check emails or social media. 5 hours where I can work on everything that I want to do. I can workout, write articles like this one (it’s 5:39am right now). If I get up at 10am like I used to I lose control of my day completely. Clients will need things done, calling to ask questions and the direction of my day ends up being controlled by everyone else and when I finally get time to myself, I have no energy left to work on my own projects, go to the gym or cook food.
Set yourself up for success.
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