Every day, we make decisions to resist impulses in order to have a healthier, happier life – turning down seconds at dinner, dragging yourself to the gym when you’d rather go home, saying no to another round of cocktails, or resisting the urge to skip the Monday-morning meeting, our willpower is tested almost constantly.  Each time we exercise willpower, it drains us just a little bit more and it needs time to replenish, making the next temptation just that little bit harder to resist.

Willpower is a limited resource so we can’t go around wasting it.

Here’s some things to help you keep your willpower strong so you can achieve those long term goals you’ve set:

  1. Remove temptation: every time we say ‘no’ to something, our willpower is diminished, so taking those temptations away (not having chocolate in the house or turning off your inbox so you can focus on the task at hand) means we don’t have to unnecessarily use up our willpower.
  2. Get enough sleep: it helps us focus better.
  3. Stabilise blood sugar: low blood sugar is associated with lower self-discipline.  Eat regularly and choose food wisely to keep blood sugars stable.
  4. Enjoy life: positive experiences makes us feel good about life and makes it easier to be disciplined, so take some time everyday to do something enjoyable.
  5. Stress less: take a walk, meditate or do what you need to do to reduce stress and your willpower will grow.
  6. Make a plan:  having a plan to follow in times of lowered willpower can help us to stick to it.  An ‘if-then’ plan can help – for example, if I’m going out and I’ve resolved to reduce my alcohol intake, my ‘if-then’ plan could be “if I’m asked if I want a drink, then I get a soda water with lime”.
  7. Exercise your willpower:  just like a muscle, exercise will make our willpower stronger.  Focus on small tasks that are easier to control and over time, your ability when faced with larger decisions will be better.

Thanks for the inspiration Zenhabits.com, Sidsavara.com and the American Psychological Association.