How to improve and build willpower

How to Improve Willpower, the Most Important Key to Success

Have you ever wondered what the #1 key to success is?

I was reading the book 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management and I think it finally clicked.

The book interviewed a billionaire who said that what set him apart from others wasn’t his intelligence, but his willpower. It was his willpower to commit and do the things he set out to do. 

Why Willpower Matters

So why else is willpower (also known as self-control) important, other than just because a billionaire said it helped him earn more money?

Two Australian psychologists, Meg Oaten and Ken Cheng, have your answer. They found that exercising self-control in one area of life helps improve all areas of life that require willpower. They found this by having numerous test groups who all had different willpower-themed exercises:

  • money-management and budgeting.
  • studying and concentration.
  • exercise and fitness.

Afterwards, they tested the students and found that they performed better on all the willpower tests in each of the areas even though they only worked on one of them. They worked out more, studied more diligently, and spent less impulsively.

If you’ve ever wondered how to improve how successful you are in life, this video will show you how.

Protecting Your Willpower

The good news is that willpower is like a muscle. It can be improved if you know how. The bad news is that, like a muscle, it is prone to weakness when exhausted. This can be even more damaging than actual muscle fatigue because there are a lot of temptations with bad consequences out there.

You can make bad decisions for your company or fail to resist the temptation to cheat on your spouse or eat unhealthy food. In fact, scientists have measured these changes to confirm them. Judges gradually declare less people innocent as the day progresses and when they have gone without food for the longest. Men tend to cheat more often towards the end of the day when they’re exhausted from work.

Action Steps

  • Reduce unnecessary decisions you have to make. For example, President Obama avoided having to decide what he wore and ate by getting others to do it because he needed to reserve his decision making power and avoid decision fatigue. You don’t have to be as extreme as Obama if you’re not making as intense, important decisions. Just use the general principle.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation leads to a loss of willpower.
  • Stay healthy. Stay in shape with exercise. A lack of health leads to a loss of willpower. 
  • Eat healthy foods. Good nutrition is a core part of good health. Avoid junk food and use your common sense when it comes to nutrition.

How To Improve Your Willpower

Self-control (willpower) is different from emotional control

Contrary to what you may assume, exercises trying to control your emotions have no impact on improving your willpower. Emotional control is another department of your brain from willpower. Why? You can’t will yourself to be in love, or to feel joy, or to feel guilty.

Action Steps

Consistently and diligently work on changing a habitual behavior. Many experiments were done to find an exercise that increased willpower. The winner was a simple, consistent posture-changing exercise: students had to correct their slouching posture as often as possible. The students who were the most diligent and consistency saw the greatest gains. Note: it wasn’t that willpower technically improved for this experiment. It was that their willpower didn’t deplete as quickly. So arguably, it’s more an endurance drill.

Scientists ran experiments later on to discover that it was the posturing part of the exercise itself that was magical. It was the core concentration on changing a habit that mattered.

Scientists recommend these quick exercises:

  • forming the habit of good posture.
  • doing tasks with your non-dominant hand.
  • changing speech habits (e.g. only speaking in complete sentences, saying “Yes” instead of “Yeah”, or eliminating “Um’s” and “Likes.”).

For longer exercises that address a root issue off the bat, you can work on exercising your willpower for one of the key areas of life mentioned earlier (fitness, personal finance, studying, etc.).

Now, I’d love to hear from you.

Have you ever considered the importance of willpower? What’s the #1 thing you can commit to doing NOW to improve one of the most important skills in your life?

Let me know in the comments with as much passion and emotion (for your own good!) as you can infuse.

Important: share your thoughts and ideas directly in the comments. 

Looking forward to hearing your commitments on this one.

Because the only way to start moving ahead is to start getting better immediately. Not tomorrow. Not next week.

Thank you so much for reading, watching and sharing with such energy. I am grateful for you for reading this and taking action on it.

Keep up the heat,

Will

Further Reading

I recommend the books:

  • The Willpower Instinct
  • Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney

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