Willpower is essential if we are 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?
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; 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 our willpower is limited, it is important we 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 we can’t be bothered, or it’s too difficult and other people’s guilt trip coupled with our own personal indulgences that cause short-term gain, but cause us to stumble.
A lack of willpower can also be cited in the usual things, like 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.