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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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willpower bunny

    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 July 8, 2020

      How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

      How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

      What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

      When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

      In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

      While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

      As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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        Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

        Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

        The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

        But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

        However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

        This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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        Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

        We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

        Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

        Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

        The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

        When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

        When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

        How to Make Decision Effectively

        Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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        1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

        You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

        Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

        Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

        2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

        You don’t have to choose all the time.

        Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

        Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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        3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

        You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

        The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

        Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

        Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

        So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

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        Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

        Reference

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