3 Exercises to Build Your Willpower
Willpower, or self-control, is considered by psychologist and economist to be one of the most important habits for success. We all want to succeed, so how do you build willpower? Most people do not realize that their mind behaves very much like a muscle. Characteristics of the mind, like willpower, will be strengthened with practice, and will erode if neglected.
And as with exercise, the more consistently, and harder you train, the better the results. If approached the right way, just a few weeks of practice can significantly strengthen your willpower. Here are a few simple exercises to get started:
Exercise 1: Set goals at the beginning of the day. Don’t sleep until they are done!
Take out a piece of paper, and write down everything that you are going to accomplish by the end of the day. Now, you have clear plan. As you cross things off your list, you will always know what to do next. This helps you avoid the common problem of becoming distracted in-between tasks. And, once you are distracted, it can be hard to get back on track.
An important part of this exercise is to finish everything. The specter of a late night at work, creates incentive during the day to stay focused and work efficiently. If you are OK with putting things off, it eliminates this incentive, and reinforces a habit of procrastination.
Exercise 2: Set tough deadlines for big projects
Periodically establish a very tough deadline for a big project. It should be achievable, but only with your best effort. Doing this is like interval training for your mind. Accomplishing your goal will force you to work harder, faster, and more efficiently than you ordinarily would. If you set your deadline right, you are likely to discover that your capacity for focus is much greater than you had anticipated. Each time you pick a new, tough deadline, see if you can push yourself to new limits. Make sure that you allow your mind some time to recover allow time in-between these sprints.
Exercise 3: Save willpower for things that matter. Limit distractions.
Now that you’re strengthening your willpower, don’t waste it! Save it for things that matter! Like any other muscle, the mind has exertion limits and is subject to fatigue. It has been shown that resisting a donut, staying focused at work, and just about any other activity that circumvents immediate gratification, draws from the same finite pool of willpower. It can be helpful to minimize the number of decisions requiring willpower. This can be accomplished by changing your environment. If you are on a diet, lock up or eliminate junk food. If you are trying to focus at work, silence your cellphone or make it inaccessible.
Have you tried these things before? Do they work for you? Let us know your thoughts. Do you have any tips or tricks that can help us build willpower?
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