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Increase Your Willpower With Just Three Simple Steps

Increase Your Willpower With Just Three Simple Steps

Willpower comes from character. If deep down we want something, we can find million ways to see that thing done. But if we go against the things we really want to do, we can be seeking the willpower to complete tasks forever.

There is no increasing willpower in a direction we don’t want to see ourselves going in the future. There is only willpower when it comes to the things we truly want. However, willpower needs to be nurtured every minute of our life. It is something like a code. We should feed it with motivation every day and give life to it.

Every self-motivating word becomes useless when we find ourselves in a situation where we want to give up. That’s the exact moment when we need to find the inner willpower that will give us the momentum we need.

Here are three simple but powerful tricks to increase your willpower.

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1. Get a good sleep

If you think that sleep has nothing to do with willpower, try to watch funny cat videos on YouTube until four in the morning and then go to work the next day. Not only you will be the most unproductive person in the room, but you will also be the most negative person around.

Willpower comes from healthy and well-fed brain. If we don’t satisfy the smartest organ in our bodies, we will never get it to serve us. The starting point for doing something productive is getting a good night’s sleep.

We need to sleep between six to eight hours a day and not a minute more or less. I’m personally satisfied with six hours a day because (as Robin Sharma says) I honestly think that sleeping more is a waste of time.

Experiment on yourself. Try to see how much sleep time you need to be rested. And don’t forget that over-sleeping is a habit. It’s scientifically proven that you don’t need more than eight hours, so don’t cheat yourself!

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2. Write out and stick to your plans

It may sound baloney, but plans alone, written on a piece of paper or electronically, increase our willpower drastically.

When we write things down (especially on a piece of paper) we make our mind visualize how our day, week, month and even whole life should be formulated. Writing stuff down takes our timeline to a whole other level.

Two of my favorite authors, Napoleon Hill and Robin Sharma, explain how powerful it is to write things down, in particular to have something like an everyday prayer. I will kick through my shame wall and I will introduce my own everyday prayer:

Bit by bit, day by day, I will increase my income up to ****Euros until February 2015. I am willing to dedicate my time in achieving that goal and weight down all the things that block my way. Every day I will support my positive ideas with my (the thing I am working on) to achieve my goal until February 2015. I will work every day as a mole, I will work out and I will be endlessly healthy and happy!

This is my personal “good morning” and “good night” sentence. I shared this so you can have idea of what that prayer looks like.

Make a few changes and always make plans for the next day. Organizing time is the vital step to find endless willpower.

3. Be elastic

Being elastic doesn’t always involve physical stretching. Being elastic is also being flexible with your actions.

Just as muscles need different types of exercise from time to time because otherwise they will stagnate, our brain needs change too. In other words, our brain needs entertainment. For example, if you brush your teeth with your dominant hand, try switching to the other hand next time. You will see that brushing your teeth is not so boring after all.

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We need to vary our daily routine and change our actions somehow. I cannot tell each of you what to do, because everybody is different, but try to focus on how you can make your purpose and passion elastic, so you can feed your brain with endless willpower.

It all hinges on how we train our brain. If you take all the money from a wealthy person, they will accumulate wealth again. But wealth is impossible for someone with a ‘poor’ mind-set. And if you take the happiness from a happy person, they will accumulate happiness again.

By using and implementing these simple steps, you will maximize your willpower in no time!

Featured photo credit: Willpower/Gaëtan Bourque via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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