How to Strengthen Your Willpower

March 17, 2019
Willpower is a psychological skill we all have the potential to strengthen and improve. It's just a matter of knowing how.

We all set goals for ourselves during the year, especially in January and September. People start the year super motivated, but as the year drags on, many of them give up on their goals. If you want to prevent that from happening, you need to learn how to strengthen your willpower! 

Your motivation often starts to fade away as the days go by. You have more obligations, you’re tired, the excitement has faded… That’s when you start to drift from your goals. You need to have willpower if you don’t want that to happen. But what exactly is it? Keep reading if you want to learn what willpower is and how you can strengthen it!

What is willpower?

Willpower is the ability a person has to persist towards a specific goal. It means overcoming setbacks, avoiding distractions, and staying focused. Thus, it’s not just about achieving things. It’s also about not giving up when the going gets tough.

Two of the most common examples are quitting smoking and exercising. At first, you have tons of motivation. But your mind will probably start making up excuses as to why you should stop in no time. Luckily, you can learn to overcome those kinds of things if you strengthen your willpower.

A man in a suit and tie leaping across crumbling stone steps.

Effective ways to strengthen your willpower

Sometimes you don’t realize your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness.”

-Susan Gale-

The main thing to remember if you want to strengthen your willpower is that it’s a psychological skill that you have to practice. It’s something you boost throughout your life.

Set clear, realistic goals

A lot of people set goals that are impossible to accomplish because they don’t give themselves enough time or don’t have the resources to accomplish them. For example, wanting to lose as much weight in a month as most people would in a year.

These goals might seem like exciting challenges at first. But as reality sets in and you have to consider things like your age and what shape you’re in, you start to realize there are some goals you can’t speed up. Thus, you end up frustrated and desperate and feel like throwing in the towel.

This is why it’s important to have well-structured, well-defined goals. For example, finding a nutritionist to help you create a diet will help you lose weight in a healthy way.

Separate tasks into subtasks

For example, if you’re taking a class and start to think about everything you’ll have to learn over the year, it’ll probably seem overwhelming. But if you divide it up into sections or subjects and divide those up week to week and day to day, it’ll seem a lot more manageable. That makes sense, right?

It also works for anything else. Even if you have a self-imposed goal, you can divide it into subtasks to make it feel easier to achieve.

A woman sitting at a desk and highlighting things in a textbook.

Plan your subtasks with a calendar

The classic “I’ll start tomorrow” won’t cut it here. As the weeks and months go by, you start to feel stressed and guilty due to procrastinationYou’ve set your goals and planned out your subtasks, so get going already!

Make a calendar and a daily schedule for your subtasks. Use time frames that you can realistically finish each subtask in. Don’t make them too short or too long, and only at times when you don’t have any other obligations. This will keep your stress at bay.

The farther you get, the better you’ll feel. You’ll see the positive results and feel good about how you’ve done things. Plus, once you’ve made it more of a habit, you won’t need to use as much willpower. What used to be hard for you will become a simple, ordinary task.

Set a small number of goals

It’s not a good idea to fill your schedule with a bunch of goals that will take up a lot of willpower. Parcel out your willpower just like you do your time since they’re both limited resources.

We want to point out one last thing before we go. Using up less willpower in your daily life is a good sign that you’re planning well.