Do you struggle to honor your commitment? Do you juggle multiple unfinished tasks at the same time? Are you easily distracted by your environment? If you answer yes to these questions, you may have an underdeveloped willower.
Willpower is our ability to restrain impulses and get things done. Willpower is finite, but the excellent news is that, through practice, we can improve it.
While firm willpower isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to success, it’s an important skill to help us resist cravings, persevere, and follow through with our plans until completion.
Here are four techniques to enhance your willpower.
Practise Mindfulness Meditation
Developing strong willpower means improving the ability to regulate our thoughts. That’s where mindfulness meditation comes into play.
Research shows that practicing mindfulness meditation for a few minutes every day can boost willpower by increasing gray matter in the areas of the brain that balance emotions and control decision making and higher-order thinking.
Over time, the simple habit of relaxing and concentrating on the present moment for a set amount of time undisturbed will help stabilize your mind, thereby improving your willpower muscles.
We live in a world full of distractions. Marketers, salespeople, entertainers, game designers, and content creators like me are all competing for your attention.
We must deliberately choose what gets our attention, when, and for how long.
When you decide ahead of time to focus on an activity, it becomes a lot easier to keep your mind centered and to deal with inevitable interruptions. That way, you can concentrate on more important matters.
Manage Your Response to Anger
Anger is when we react impulsively to adverse events or others’ inappropriate behaviors. Therefore, controlling our response to anger makes it an ideal willpower-strengthening exercise.
I conceived a model to help you respond to irritating stimuli called TAB, which stands for Trigger, Awareness, Behavior in which awareness is where you have the unique potential to strengthen willpower.
For example, a driver cuts you off on the freeway (trigger) before behaving impulsively, count backward from 10 to 0 (awareness) then respond (behavior).
The TAB model is in line with an interesting finding by researcher Benjamin Libet, who discovered that the part of the brain responsible for movement activates a quarter-second before we are even aware of our intention to move.
This exercise will not only spare you countless bouts of anger, but it’ll also allow you to give more measured responses to annoying stimuli.
While willpower is about focusing, resisting temptations, and getting things done, it’s also about giving yourself room for failure.
Flexibility involves planning for situations where you are likely to fail. For instance, it’s usually difficult to maintain a healthy diet during travels, so allow yourself to stop momentarily.
By deliberately allowing yourself to miss your routine, you demonstrate agency which is critical to building willpower.
The key to developing your willpower is to start small. As a beginner, start with a lightweight in the gym, then walk their way upward, begin by engaging in activities that require minimal conscious effort, and challenge yourself gradually.