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6 Tricks To Boost Your Willpower

6 Tricks To Boost Your Willpower

We’ve all been there: you’ve gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, or you’d have preferred not to get up at all. Making it through a difficult day – or, indeed, through a rough patch in life – is often a matter of willpower. What is willpower, though, and how can you improve it?

Willpower is, for our purposes, a combination of forward-thinking, positivity and a mindfulness of the future. It’s an understanding that problems are transitory, and maintaining the right attitude is essential. If you’re struggling with maintaining your willpower, here are six tips to get you in the right frame of mind.

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    1. Plot your progress toward your goals.

    Is it a cliche to suggest that you keep your “eyes on the prize?” Maybe, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. We all have goals in life, and for the most part, failure to achieve those goals only happen when we lose interest or let our commitment flag.

    Keeping track of your progress isn’t just a way of reminding yourself of the endgame, but also to remind yourself how far you’ve already come. Losing weight or preparing to run your first 5K are great examples. There are bound to be ups and downs along the way, and you’ll have setbacks. Dwell not just on the numbers you’ve chosen as a goal, or on the ones getting in your way, but on the reasons for achieving that goal. Remember that mathematics are not the only thing that hang in the balance.

    2. Read about the lives of famously successful people.

    History has provided us with a great deal of inspiration, ready for the taking. If you’re looking for a new role model or just a few words of encouragement, you don’t need to look any further than the biography section in your local library or book store.

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    Think about what interests you, and what you want to accomplish. Find somebody who’s had success pursuing your same interests, whether it’s something as simple as a hobby, or changing the world with humanitarian efforts. It might feel like you’re being talked down to when (for example) Warren Buffet gives you budgeting advice, but knowing that he’s been where you are now should go a long way toward improving your willpower.

    3. Cope with stress and other difficulties by “getting gritty.”

    Angela Lee Duckworth’s wonderful TED Talk about the power of grit could be very instructive if you’re looking for ways to inspire yourself.

    Ms. Duckworth has a background as a junior high math teacher, and what she found out about students’ success in the classroom didn’t have nearly as much to do with IQ as she’d suspected. The characteristic of “grit” – that is, the determination in each of us to overcome our weaknesses, deal with stress, and reach for success – turned out to be the single greatest asset a student could have.

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    Dirty girl

      4. Forgive your own mistakes, and use them as inspiration.

      There may be no more serious barrier to achieving success than allowing past mistakes to discourage us and cloud our judgment. Most of us are too familiar with the quintessential film scene where the protagonist goes to a bar to drown his failures in liquor. It’s an extreme example, not still pretty instructive about the many non-productive ways we can deal with failure.

      Forgiving yourself for your mistakes is the first step; after that, you need to burn those mistakes like fuel to power yourself toward your goals in life. Why did you fail? What did you learn? What can you do better next time? Failures are not dead ends; they’re essential steps on a longer road.

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      5. Keep your past triumphs in mind at all times.

      It might at first seem counter-intuitive to dwell on the past in order to build a successful future. The thing is, this type of thinking may well be the gateway to achieving power and passion in all of your pursuits.

      Is it so hard to believe that meditating on – and taking inspiration from – your own successes in life is a great way to duplicate your triumphs? If the difference between hope and false hope is nothing more than evidence, then what better evidence could you ask for than the fact that you’ve faced similar challenges earlier in life and come out the other side triumphant?

      6. Have faith that it’s going to get easier.

      Very few problems last forever. As such, a healthy amount of optimism will help see you through just about any troubles you’re having. Unlike the world of physics, where things seem to thrive on entropy, life for most of us has the wonderful tendency to self-correct.

      “Faith” is sort of a murky and imprecise word, so let’s make things a little more straightforward: let’s imagine that faith, in this context, represents a way for us to firmly believe that a thing will come to pass even while we work hard to make it so.

      Featured photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons: Celestine Chua and PersonalExcellence.co via flickr.com

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      Last Updated on November 15, 2019

      How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

      How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

      Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

      However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

      Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

      Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

      Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

      What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

      To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

      The Biology

      Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

      Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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      The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

      A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

      Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

      So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

      Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

      Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

      Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

      Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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      The Psychology

      Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

      Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

      Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

      Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

      What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

      Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

      Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

      1. Identify Your Habits

      As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

      2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

      Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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      It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

      3. Apply Logic

      You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

      Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

      4. Choose an Alternative

      As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

      Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

      5. Remove Triggers

      Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

      Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

      6. Visualize Change

      Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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      For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

      7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

      Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

      Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

      Final Thoughts

      Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

      Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

      More About Changing Habits

      Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

      Reference

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