Willpower is such a wonderful thing when we have it and the worst thing when we don’t! I recently read a great article on this! You can find it HERE or read my re-cap on it:
This article, called “Waiting for the Second Marshmallow,” has some awesome points that made me feel a little bit better about when I feel like my willpower is gone!
It says, “Willpower is the ability to delay immediate gratification in the name of long-term goals. Think of it as self-regulation- more simply, resisting temptation.” It talks about how each of us have a limited amount of willpower each day, and compared it to a bank account. This makes so much sense. When is the time do you feel like your willpower is at its weakest? For me, it’s at night and when I’m tired. According to the article this is normal because by the time the day is at an end, we have probably used up all of our willpower. We just don’t have any left in the tank to resist temptation anymore!
Fortunately, there are ways to build up our willpower, like a muscle! Also, we can preserve some willpower for later in the day by planning things out the night before. Here is how:
First- when we think of willpower, we usually think of being strong enough to stay no to desserts, or unhealthy foods. But, there is a lot more to it than that. The article gave some of the following examples: going to the gym when you really want to sleep in, not taking a gym selfie even though the lighting is perfect (I laughed a little too hard at this one :), not texting while driving, and cleaning up the house instead of watching TV.
So, let’s talk about saving up your willpower bank by planning what you can the night before. By making a lot of little decisions before the day begins, you can start your day off with a little more in your “willpower bank account.” Here are some ideas of what you can do: decide what you are going to wear, if you going to the gym or going to sleep in, decide on meals. If you are going out to lunch and know where, look at the menu and decide what you are going to order so when you get there, you are not tempted by the unhealthy stuff.
Researchers believe we can build up our willpower like a muscle. It’s pretty easy to do too! Just “choose a low-risk task before bed and commit to it for 30 days.” The examples from the article include flossing, journaling, and doing the dishes. If you consistently do this task each night, your task not only builds your willpower, but becomes a habit and then you can pick a new task!
Have you noticed if your willpower is lower when you are tired? (Raising hand!) Mine is almost non-existent if I am super tired. So, by getting enough sleep, our willpower is stronger.
There are a lot of other ways to help us with our willpower including: positive thinking, avoiding temptation, and distraction (This is where the title of the article came from. A 1970 study found that children who had a marshmallow placed in front of them and were told they would get another if they didn’t eat the first one until told, were most successful when they distracted themselves). Meditation and exercise are also great helps at boosting willpower!
And my favorite one- imaginary eating! Yes, if you want a dessert, but really want to resist it, imagine yourself eating it! There was a study that actually proved that this works in helping avoid temptation. I actually do a similar thing that may or may not work for you… I smell the food! It sounds a little crazy, but it works most of the time for me! My favorite thing to smell is chocolate. Honestly, when I smell it and then do give in and eat it, it does not taste as good as it smells or as good as I imagine it is going to taste. Therefore, it is getting easier to just smell it and not eat it. It’s a win-win!
The article was awesome and informative. It was very encouraging to me and gave me a boost of confidence in myself and my own willpower! Check it out! and let me know what you think. What other ideas/things do you do to help your willpower?