Five Tips to Help You Develop Willpower
In many cases, willpower coincides with both our conscious and unconscious desires. However, sometimes our conscious and unconscious desires are different. Thus, we end up saying one thing and doing another. We struggle with our willpower because we don’t know what to invest in. In order to develop willpower and get the most out of it, we must have clear goals.
One of the most disconcerting aspects of humans is that we often do what we want, even though we don’t realize it. Whenever we say, “I can” or “I can’t”, what we’re really saying is “I want to” or “I don’t want to”. Therefore, the problem isn’t just developing willpower. The problem also lies in knowing how to identify our true desires within the options we have.
Now, why is it important to develop willpower? Willpower allows us to have more control over our lives. We can use willpower to direct our lives in the way our heart and convictions indicate. Here are five tips that can help you develop willpower.
1. Know and analyze yourself
The basic premise for developing willpower is self-knowledge. As we indicated above, sometimes we don’t even know what we want. Therefore, we focus on a goal but our willpower fails us. We can’t keep up nor consolidate that purpose.
A typical example is weight loss. Many people insist on it and may even achieve it, but then they end up quitting. Many others give up within hours. This is because the steps they’ve taken to reach their goal were probably too demanding for their resources. Thus, their willpower ended up bending.
On the other hand, perhaps in the back of their mind they wanted to lose weight for a reason that has not finished binding to the fibers of their willpower.
In this example, as in many others, the person doesn’t recognize their true desire (to please others), so their willpower fails. That’s why it’s so important to do an introspective exercise in order to get to know yourself better and define what you really want. Also, assess how constructive your desires are. This will make it easier to develop willpower.
2. Overcome instant gratification
Many times, the things we do that result in instant gratification go against the things we must do to achieve long-term gratification. If we have to use willpower to make a decision, it’s because there’s something unpleasant ahead.
The alternative is to yield to momentary pleasure and succumb to the immediate desire or give up the pleasure of long-term goals. A good example is smoking. The dilemma smokers face is whether they should smoke that cigarette now or avoid the pleasure of smoking it for the satisfaction of overcoming addiction and improving their health. This becomes more difficult the farther away we think the long-term objective is or the more doubts we have about its viability.
3. Reward and reinforce
You can boost your willpower by dividing big goals into small ones and then rewarding yourself when you achieve them. This reinforcement essentially represents nourishment for your willpower. However, we must be careful with how we reward ourselves for our efforts.
If you want to lose weight, don’t reward yourself with a binge. If you want to quit smoking, don’t reward yourself with a cigarette. Take this very seriously. Give yourself a constructive and positive reward.
4. Relaxation: A key factor that can help you develop willpower
Whenever we do something that causes us displeasure, we experience an internal conflict. We feel an irritating emotional tension, especially in the beginning. In other words, we have stress that needs an outlet.
Relaxation techniques help a lot in these circumstances. Proper management of internal tension is one of the main factors of success. When our anxiety levels rise, there’s nothing better than turning to one of those relaxation techniques.
5. Have positive affirmations at the ready
Positive words and messages are really powerful. Therefore, you just nourish yourself with them to develop willpower. For best results, have the reasons that led you to make a decision in writing and within easy reach.
When you write down the reasons why you decided to do something, do it in an encouraging and positive way. Emphasize all the good things that will come from achieving your goal. It’s also convenient to write down messages or phrases that strengthen you. In difficult times, these will help you refocus on what’s important.
Developing willpower is necessary for living a better life. The feeling of control we get from it feeds our self-confidence, self-love, and self-esteem. This, in turn, prepares us for greater challenges.