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7 Surprising Science-Based Hacks To Build Your Willpower

7 Surprising Science-Based Hacks To Build Your Willpower

Tempted by that second doughnut? Struggling to resist checking your phone? Shopping impulsively on Amazon? Slacking off by reading Lifehack instead of doing work? What you need is more willpower! Recent research shows that strengthening willpower is the real secret to the kind of self-control that can help you resist temptations and achieve your goals. The great news is that scientists say strengthening your willpower is not as hard as you might think. Here are 7 research-based hacks to strengthen your willpower!

1. Smile :-)

Smile

    Smiling and other mood-lifting activities help improve willpower. In a recent study, scientists first drained the willpower of participants through having them resist temptation. Then, for one group, they took steps to lift people’s moods, such as giving them unexpected gifts or showing them a funny video. For another group, they just let them rest. Compared to people who just rested for a brief period, those whose moods were improved did significantly better in resisting temptation later! So next time you need to resist temptation, improve your mood! Smile or laugh, watch a funny video or two.

    2. Clench Your Fist

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    Fist

      Clench your fists or partake in another type of activity where you exercise self-control. Studies say that exercising self-control in any physical domain causes you to become more disciplined in other facets of life. So do whatever works for you to exercise self-control when you are trying to fight temptations: clench your fist, squeeze your eyes shut, or you can even hold in your pee, just like UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

      3. Meditate

      FV_International _Insights_eja1

        Meditation is great for a lot of things – reducing stress, increasing focus, managing emotions. Now research suggests it even helps us build willpower! With all these benefits, can you afford not to meditate? An easy way to get started is to spend 10 minutes a day sitting in a calm position and focusing on your breath.

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        4. Reminders

        SONY DSC

          Our immediate desires to give in to temptations make it really challenging to resist them. Our emotional desires seem like a huge elephant and our rational self is like a small elephant rider by comparison. However, one way to steer the elephant is to set in physical reminders in advance to remind ourselves of what our rational self wanted to do. So put a note on your fridge that says “only one doughnut” or set an alarm clock to buzz when you want to stop playing video games.

          5. Eat

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          Eat

            Did you know that your willpower is powered by food? No wonder’s it’s so hard to diet! When we have low levels of glucose, our willpower goes down the drain. The best cure is a meal rich in protein, which produces a constant and steady glucose level and enables the most optimal willpower.

            6. Self-Forgiveness

            Forgive

              How is self-forgiveness connected to willpower? Well, what the science shows is that feelings of regret deplete your willpower. This is why those who eat a little too much ice cream and feel regret are then much more likely to just let themselves go and eat the whole pint or even gallon! Instead, when you give in to temptation, be compassionate toward yourself and forgive yourself. That way, you’ll have more willpower going forward!

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              7. Commitment

              Commitment 2

                The most important thing to strengthen your willpower is commitment to doing so! Only by committing to improving your willpower every day will you be able to take the steps described above. To do so, evaluate your situation and why you want to strengthen your willpower, make a clear decision to work on improving this area, and set a long-term goal for your willpower improvement to have the kind of intentional life that you want.

                Then break down this goal into specific and concrete steps that you will take based on the strategies described above. Research shows this is the best path for you to build your willpower! So what are the specific and concrete steps that you will take?

                Photo Credit: Smile!, Fist of Fury!, Gleb Tsipursky meditating in the park, 225/365 Reminders, pai eating, Forgive, Commitment

                Featured photo credit: Temptation/Lowes via flickr.com

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                Dr. Gleb Tsipursky

                President and Co-Founder at Intentional Insights; Disaster Avoidance Consultant

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                Last Updated on March 13, 2019

                How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

                You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

                Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

                1. Work on the small tasks.

                When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

                Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

                2. Take a break from your work desk.

                Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

                Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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                3. Upgrade yourself

                Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

                The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

                4. Talk to a friend.

                Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

                Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

                5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

                If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

                Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

                Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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                6. Paint a vision to work towards.

                If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

                Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

                Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

                7. Read a book (or blog).

                The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

                Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

                Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

                8. Have a quick nap.

                If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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                9. Remember why you are doing this.

                Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

                What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

                10. Find some competition.

                Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

                Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

                11. Go exercise.

                Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

                Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

                As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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                Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

                12. Take a good break.

                Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

                Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

                Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

                Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

                More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

                Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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