Willpower & determination

25 Apr 2016

Willpower is essential if we are to try to achieve, overcome and succeed, so why do we fail at the willpower thing? What is it about willpower that has a tendency to stop us in our tracks, just when we need it the most?

Let’s explore and find out exactly what willpower is. Leading research led by Roy Baumeister, Professor of Psychology at Florida State University, believes willpower is like a muscle and like any muscle, when it is exercised in the short term it can lead to exhaustion, but in the long term exercising a muscle causes it to grow.

There is strong evidence to suggest that exercising willpower although temporarily depleting, means it can grow stronger in the longer term. Like everything, we have to push through. If we know willpower is limited, it’s important to anticipate and plan our time wisely, so that the willpower we have doesn’t run out.

We shouldn’t start something that’s too important not to finish that we know we won’t have the energy for. For example, if we have a tax return to do, we shouldn’t start it after a frustrating day at work. We need to anticipate how much time we’ll need to complete it and plan-ahead, so that we have time to finish it without giving up.

Strength of characters play a part in how strong our willpower is. Willpower is something we must continually work at, but we can overcome and step up to the challenge on the willpower thing, with a little steely determination. We tend to give up too easily because it’s easier, or we can’t be bothered, particularly when it comes to guilt and personal indulgences that cause short-term gain, but are much harder to quit in the longer term.

A lack of willpower can be cited in the usual things, staying up too late, drinking too much, smoking and eating the wrong foods. It’s anything that contributes to a short-term fix and a long-term problem.

4 Responses to “Willpower & determination”

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  1. Randy 25. Apr, 2016 at 5:23 pm #

    I have always had plenty of both, but thanks to my parents, they eventually broke my spirit! I gave up on parts of myself that were necessary for survival, which made my life a living hell. I have survived, I have existed, but I haven’t ever truly lived.

    My parents never let us know that it was okay for us to fight for what we believed in. Their solution was to always cut and run instead of dealing with the issues at hand, so giving up was the easier thing to do.

    I have allowed so much in my life to just pass me by and I can’t change that fact. The only thing I can do now is to find my willpower and determination again, so I can finally live for the first time in my life.

  2. Ilana 25. Apr, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

    Thanks Randy. Innately I believe we have willpower and determination, but we only come to see we have when we need to use it.

    The rest of the time we tend to cruise until we have to be outspoken or strong, either for us or our children, but it’s there when we need it to be. We’re not born knowing, but through childhood experiences we come to learn very quickly how things are. Although your childhood was traumatic, you know that none of what your parents did was ever your fault.

    Like you, I was never in a position where I had willpower or determination, but having made myself strong, I have learned how to acquire both. We often do through necessity.

    I believe somewhere in you, you will have the willpower and determination to succeed. We must all be hungry for change.

  3. Brad 26. Apr, 2016 at 5:03 pm #

    For me much depends on the circumstances and the task in front of me.

    I am determined and oozing willpower for certain things and won’t be dissuaded from achieving what I set out to do; and for other stuff I don’t apply the same resolve if I doubt the value of the task.

    • Ilana 26. Apr, 2016 at 5:56 pm #

      Thanks, yes it is easy to take on a different perception when we don’t value the task in hand and often have to push ourselves to continue to work it through until the task is finished.

      It often depends on where our interest lies and whether the task in hand is for us or for someone else.

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