I’ve written a lot about the way willpower impacts our ability to make changes that stick.
The bottom line: we have a limited stock of willpower. It’s been studied. It’s a fact. Because of this, the key to making changes that stick is to go slow; to break down your big goals into small pieces and to work on one at a time for the 21 days it takes to create a habit. Once something is a habit—once it’s routine and automatic; once you no longer have to think about it—you no longer need to expend your willpower. From there you can take on an additional habit, and so on.
I read something in The New York Times suggesting removing temptations in order to maintain self-control.
It seems obvious, but there is also some important science behind it.
“A 2011 study that examined how people deal with self-control found that those of us who are best at it aren’t more strong-willed or dedicated: They simply experience temptation less.”
The piece gives some simple examples like not having dessert in your house and putting away your smartphone to avoid the temptation of looking at every notification.
The author then cited an added benefit of removing the temptation: “A study from last year found that just experiencing temptation — regardless of whether we succumb to it — can leave us feeling depleted, which in turn inhibits our ability to achieve our goals.”
Which brings us back to our limited stock of willpower.
Don’t beat yourself up over your limited willpower or self-control. Instead, beat the problem, by not overtaxing your willpower—by removing temptations, and by working on one, small, new habit at a time.
What is your experience with your willpower? Please join the conversation with your comments…