By David Joel Miller.
Simple ways to increase your willpower.
Willpower, both the making yourself do unpleasant things and the “won’t power” type where you have to pass up things that might not be good for you, are often in short supply. Some people just seem to have plenty of willpower and other people are constantly running out.
Whatever supply of willpower you have, it seems to be at its peak in the early part of the day and then declines as the day moves on. Start your day with a good supply and you will get a lot more go out of your willpower. Here are some ways to recharge that willpower supply of yours.
Get more sleep for more willpower.
Lack of sleep, an adequate amount, can cause all sorts of problems. When you are tired you do not feel like doing things, particularly things that will require a lot of willpower. People who get enough sleep appear to have an extra dose of willpower as a result of that dose of sleep.
Sleep is the “low hanging” fruit of self-care. Add in a healthy diet, some exercise and some emotionally healthy things and your willpower is bound to expand.
Improve your support system and improve your willpower.
Having people on your side helps stretch your willpower. People who support you can encourage you to do the hard things that require more willpower. They can also support you in avoiding those things that are not healthy. People who have lots of friends are less troubled about willpower than those who have few friends.
Make sure these friends are positive. Remember that resisting peer pressure thing? Well, resisting peer pressure uses up tons of willpower. Having good friends that support you in doing the right thing will get you extra miles out of your existing willpower.
Manage your blood sugar to manage willpower.
Low blood sugar makes you feel tired and irritable. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining proper blood sugar can both help you have the energy to do the hard stuff. Not feeling out of sorts can also help you avoid the arguments and conflicts that come more frequently when you are low on brain fuel.
Careful though, over the long-term, high blood sugars, the kind that can lead to or be the result of diabetes, can cause you to just not want to do anything. Not sure? Talk to your doctor about your blood sugar. Do not wait until your body is totally out of go to get that diabetes diagnosis. Knowledge is power, especially in the health area.
Create a schedule – making choices uses up willpower.
People report that they have less difficulty with willpower early in the day. The first few things go well. But as you do more and more your willpower gets used up. Each time you have to make another decision you use some more of that precious willpower.
Start your day with a lot of those willpower-sapping decisions already done. End your day by making a list of the things you are going to need to do tomorrow. Each successive act you take needs less willpower as you just keep working your way down the list.
Establish routines to maximize willpower.
Routines become automatic default settings in your brain. If you do things in a certain order, that takes the pressure off you to decide what to do first, second and so on. Use your daily outline as a tool to propel you through the rest of the day’s activities without having to think each choice through all over again.
Write out your goals and look at this list often.
Out of sight out of mind especially applies to things that are harder to do. Make a written list of goals. Reward yourself as you accomplish each goal on your list. Reminding yourself why you are doing things today that are hard to do because you are working towards a set goal, can make staying on task much easier.
Rearrange your environment to reduce temptations – people, places, and things.
Does it take willpower to stay focused? Reduce the distractions in your environment. Do not go to places where you will be tempted and then blame your fall on your lack of willpower. Bakeries are not places to stay on your diet and bars will not be good places to help you avoid drinking.
Do you get distracted by social media or videos? Close the windows, turn off the set and see how much less willpower it takes when you are in the place to do what needs doing.
If you slip do not stay down – the F&@*it’s.
A single slip in your willpower is not an excuse to say that you just “can’t” do something. Learn from that slip and make the changes you need to make in order to stay on track. Giving up after one set back is a way to shrink your willpower.
Break tasks up into manageable chunks.
Facing one huge task can overwhelm anyone’s store of willpower. Break that task up into small pieces. Need to write a report – make up a list of the steps and check one or two off each day. Over time you will make amazing progress.
Trying to improve your life? You can’t do everything in one day. Make a few small changes and then practice these over and over. Of course, if your life is way far out of control, like addiction or homelessness you may need to do some of the large work first. Getting off drugs or finding a safe place to stay is the first job. Making more friends and eating healthy can wait till you’re off the drugs.
Those are some of the suggestions I have found that can help expand that most precious resource willpower. Have you found any other things that help you to have an adequate supply of willpower?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books