Friday, 27 April 2012

W is for… Willpower

The unwavering strength of will to carry out one’s wishes

Every single person reading this post has struggled with their willpower at times. We’ve all let short-term satisfaction get the better of long-term benefit, but why do we do it to ourselves? Why do so many people slip up when they’re on a diet, or find themselves watching tv when they should be studying? The simple answer is that we all have a limited amount of willpower. We’d all like to believe we could achieve anything we want to if we really put our mind to, but human beings just aren’t built to act that way. 

Thankfully, there are ways to increase our willpower. By training any act of self-control we can actually increase our capacity to self-control. This act of self-control can be relatively simple – make sure you get some regular exercise each day, or limit the amount of television you watch – as long as you manage to consistently control one thing, it has been shown that you become more capable of controlling other things in your life.

However, in spite of how much training we do, we all still have a finite amount of willpower at the end of the day – that fact has been proven in numerous scientific studies. So it makes sense to save your willpower for the things you really want to achieve. Plan your regular exercise so you get in a routine and don’t use all your reserves willing yourself to the gym. Make sure you have a healthy meal planned before you go to work, so when you get home tired and hungry you don’t have to use your willpower making yourself cook a healthy meal off-the-cuff.

So when we see our favourite sports stars, musicians, actors and writers and admire their willpower and work ethic, remember that they’ve also probably got their life in good order, so they’re able to concentrate their energies on where they need them most. Then try to make some small achievable changes in your life, don’t try to change everything at once. And don’t beat yourself up if you let yourself down, remind yourself that you’re only human and that it happens to all of us, however strong willed some people may appear.

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