If so, please keep reading…It is willpower that allows us to overcome the inevitable obstacles (real or perceived) as we move forward towards the things we want or desire in life. Willpower also is the key ingredient in holding us back from doing the stupid stuff that does not serve us, or causes us pain, or takes us off the path.The willpower to say ‘no’ (and follow through on it) is one of the most powerful things we can master.
So how do we build up our willpower to allow us to move towards what serves us, and hold back from that which does not?
You are about to find out…
Willpower Building Technique #1: Knowledge is power
The part of the brain most associated with willpower is the frontal lobes of the brain. This is part of the cortex (or upper brain) to the front of the head and behind the forehead. This is one of the centres of power in your brain. This is also a part of the brain that consumes a lot of energy when it is activated.
It burns energy (fuel) at a rapid rate.
So the first thing to know is that there is, at a physical level, generally a finite amount of energy available for use throughout the day. When we use our willpower, we are consuming a significant amount of that energy.
The more willpower we use, the more depleted we are likely to become, and the less willpower we have available. So use your willpower wisely, and know that it will reduce as a result of constant use.
Willpower Building Technique #2: How to power up your willpower
The brain is similar, in a sense, to the muscles in our body. There are some basic things that it needs to operate at its maximum efficiency, which are:
- It needs to be fully hydrated. The brain is made up of about 75% water, so when the brain is not fully hydrated, it is not going to operate at 100% capacity. So drinking water (and being fully hydrated) will increase your willpower.
- It needs to be fully fueled up. The brain needs energy. The brain is about 2% of your body weight, but consumes up to 70% of the glucose in the body. So keep it fueled up with good quality complex carbohydrates.
- It needs rest. Overuse of your muscles can lead to injury and depletion of strength. The same with the brain. It needs its rest. At the macro level (nightly rest) and micro level (mini breaks through the day).
- It needs to be used regularly. Thinking is good for the brain. Watching 10 hours of TV is not. I am sure you get my point. 😉
So if you want to boost your willpower or you need to use it, make sure you get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, eat a good nutritious diet (and maybe a healthy snack of fruit or nuts and seeds before you need to use your willpower), and do some of your own thinking before you ask Mr Google.
Willpower Building Technique #3: Create some effective strategies
I call myself a strategist and helping my clients create more effective strategies in their life is a big part of the work I do (along with improving their overall mindset).
Since I know that our willpower is limited, and a precious resource, I am big on making sure we use it effectively by using it at the right time, on the right tasks and in the right way.
I know my willpower is most high in the morning after I have rested, meditated and exercised. Therefore I schedule tasks (or meetings) that need more willpower (and thinking power) in the mornings, and not at 2pm in the afternoon when I might be feeling more flat.
I also don’t put myself in harms way, by having a packet of Oreo’s on my desk at 2pm in the afternoon (or in the house for that matter). I also don’t go into a convenience store that is filled with junk food when I am tired, and my willpower is at its lowest. My ability to exert my will and refrain from eating high calorie food (which my primal brain might be screaming for) is going to be severely depleted.
So I strategically make choices in my life where I do not have to use my willpower all the time, or in situations where it is likely to be low through fatigue, dehydration or hunger.
Where in your life might you require a more effective strategy to ensure you don’t have to use more willpower than necessary?
Willpower Building Technique #4: Build that muscle
I am not sure of you have heard of a Stanford study done with children where they found that willpower trumped IQ when it came to general success. The children with higher levels of willpower, in later life, were more likely to have higher salaries, more friends and be physically leaner. Willpower is a muscle that is well worth building up.To build up a muscle it is important to have adequate resistance and to exercise the muscle on a regular and consistent basis. The same applies to the brain and willpower.
It pays to practice and exercise your willpower to build up your willpower muscle.
Examples might be:
- Exercising restraint when offered a sweet or deciding not to have desert.
- Choosing to refrain from drinking alcohol for a couple of weeks or months.
- Using your brain to think for a minute or few longer before you give up and go to Google.
- Practice counting taking 10 deep breaths without your mind wandering or having some internal dialogue going on.
- Doing an extra push-up when your brain tells you it wants to stop (exercising mind over matter).
Willpower Building Technique #5: Meditate
This is one of the best ways to build up your willpower and overall brain power.
Meditation has the ability to change your brain function. In enables you to become more focused. It helps you improve your ability to have a single point of focus, increasing the intensity of your will to a laser-like focus.
By practicing during meditation a simple technique like paying attention to the breath at the exclusion of everything else, you are building up your ability to focus your attention (will) where you direct it. The better you get at this, the better you will be able to direct your will with precision and the more effectively you will manage the energy within your brain.
If you want to increase your willpower then meditation is one of the best practices you can choose.
You can affect your willpower by what you are doing, or not doing, at a physical level (think water, food and rest).
You can better manage your finite supplies of willpower, by being conscious of how and when you use it.
You can increase your will power by practices like meditation.
You have got it!!
Wishing you a powerful day of directed intention and bubbling joy.