Many people blame poor willpower for the choices that they make and many others don’t appreciate that it is something that can be learned. Willpower is the third vital component (Roy Baumeister PhD) required to achieve an objective, whatever it might be.. The first being that you need to be motivated and have set a clear goal, the second factor is that you need to watch your behaviour to ensure that it is in harmony with your goal. This is what willpower is; it allows you to put your energy into what you care about to get the end results you seek.
There are four main ways to improve your willpower:
Get enough if it. Sleep deprivation causes the prefrontal cortex to lose control over the regions of the brain that create cravings so this means in reality that you are more likely to give in to impulses, have less focus and make other questionable or risky choices. You are also more likely to react more emotionally to stressful situations.
So the answer to those of us for whom a long nights sleep is difficult? Power naps. You are at your best after a good nights sleep. Having a mid-day “power nap” into your schedule can reverse the usual willpower drain from morning to night. Naps can reduce stress, improve mood and restore focus. A study has found that those who napped, found that they were less impulsive that their counterparts.
By practising being in the moment every day, you become more in tune with what you want and what you need. This crucial difference differentiates between shame and guilt on one hand and the chance of building on long term goals in the other. The act of meditation releases chemicals that make us feel good (dopamine and endorphins) and the have a calming impact on our bodies. By reducing stress, the urges and cravings are dissipated. Interestingly, meditation works better at reducing stress than exercise does.
I never knew that when alcohol is consumed, the body stops its ability to burn fat and it then focuses on eliminating alcohol from the body. As I am participating in a month long fitness programme, I thought that the occasional glass of wine would be fine, but not so! Interestingly, if alcohol is consumed before a meal, a person generally consumes 20% more calories of food during the meal so the calorie content jumps up by 33%!
Eat regularly and eat foods with a lot glycemic index will ensure that you have more stable insulin levels and no sugar rushes which leave wanting more to correct the imbalance. Willpower is a form of mental energy that when depleted, causes people to lose self control. This mental energy is fuelled by glucose. Have healthy snacks as willpower is energy expensive. When your blood sugar drops, your brain is less able to focus and control your impulses.
Dr Kelly McGonigal teaches at Stanford University and is a health psychologist whose specialist area is willpower. She defines willpower as consisting of 3 parts: I will power, I won’t power and I want power
Her key tips:
- Willpower is like a muscle, the more you work on developing it. the more it affects your life.
- If you focus on a goal that you really want and break it down into much smaller parts, it will be much easier to achieve
- If you can find a friend that has achieved what you want and spend time with them, you will find that willpower is contagious
- Willpower is strongest after a great night’s sleep so do this things that you find the hardest in the morning, when your willpower is at its best
- Stress is a willpower killer and by learning to manage stress, so your willpower will improve
- Sleep – one extra hour has a powerful effect
- Don’t put off tomorrow what you can try today. By putting off, you most certainly will give in.
- Know your cravings
- Identify those things that could prevent you from achieving your goal.
- Know your limits. Understand how you fail. how you are tempted and how you procrastinate.
- Be aware of the choices that you make. Are they consistent with your goal?
- Be flexible but know the clear direction you need to take to achieve your goal
- Reward yourself
- Don’t be hard on yourself, give yourself some slack. “Give up Guilt”
Of everything, sleep is the one single factor that can influence more positive outcomes.
So my book for this week, is The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. A brilliant book for anyone wanting to focus on achieving goals. There is still plenty of time this month or year to get going on what you really want to achieve.
Feeling excited: it is my husband’s birthday on Sunday so we’ve planned a lovely weekend. Cake planned and a surprise day out.
Felt very proud of my son this week as he is working very hard for his exams this summer. Best parent’s meeting yet! He’s certainly on track to meet his goals which is fantastic!
Found that by setting out to meet new people everyday, it is very rewarding and people are so lovely. I’ve spoken to people about my business this week and it is fantastic to hear their excitement when they too can see how life could be if they make that next step.
Never give up on anyone and that includes, not giving up on yourself
If I can help you or you would just like to talk about how I can help you, please contact me.0