Willpower is a finite resource, or is it?
Recently, there has been some debate, and research studies to back it up, on whether willpower is finite or not. I thought I’d weigh in based on my experience. Some people think that it is just in your head. If you think it is limited or unlimited, you will act accordingly.
According to dictionary.com, willpower is defined as “control of one’s impulses and actions; self-control.”
Some have more than others
I know that some people tend to have more self-control than others. I think I fall into that category. I’m not sure I can share my secret though, because I don’t really know why.
For me, willpower is most important for eating healthy every day, exercising regularly, and starting and completing personal and work projects.
Here’s what I know about myself:
- I notice that I have more willpower earlier in the day, and I use this to my advantage. For example, I typically have my healthiest meal at breakfast. I also prefer to exercise in the morning.
- I notice that the busier I am, the more self-discipline I have. If I have any length of free time, forget about it.
- Decision making saps willpower. The more decisions I need to make in a day, the more my self-control diminishes. Thus, I purposely remove the need to make certain decisions. One way I do this is by turning an activity that typically requires will into a habit. This also frees up willpower for other things. For example, if I have a habit of stopping at the gym on my way home from work every night this requires little will, because it is a habit that I don’t think about.
- Speaking of thinking. If I think too much about something, I probably don’t have much power around it. For example, if I find myself thinking about whether I should have that second helping of dessert, I’m pretty much a goner.
- If I’m stressed, my self-control goes down. For example, I tend to have a bit of social anxiety, so when I go to a party, I tend to eat more than normal.
Man, thinking and writing about willpower makes me want a piece of chocolate cake!
What are your thoughts? Do you think willpower is limited or unlimited? Do you have strategies for increasing yours?
See my related article on winning the day.
Shanda Miller is the founder of Your One Extraordinary Life and author of 8 Steps to Designing Your Dream Life. Her purpose is to inspire and guide others to live their version of an extraordinary life. She helps people who feel stuck and want to live an intentional life and reach their goals. She specializes in helping people who are already successful in life, but who want that extra help to go beyond and reach bigger dreams and aspirations.