How to Increase Your Willpower: Part One

Have you ever wondered why you seem to lack willpower just when you need it the most? For example, why does resisting dessert suddenly become much more difficult in the evening, after you’ve made healthy choices all day long?

The truth is, we all have a finite amount of willpower, and you’ll quickly run out if you use it constantly throughout the day. Fortunately, there is a solution. Throughout this month’s 3-part blog series, “How to Increase Your Willpower,” I’m going to teach you how to begin each day with larger willpower reserves, so that you can accomplish your goals more efficiently. 

Here’s how to get started, with easy daily changes that will have a big impact on your self-control:

1. Fuel your body with healthy foods

Giving your body the nutrition it needs to have a huge influence on your willpower reserves. Set yourself up for success by consciously choosing to consume healthier foods and drinks. When you walk by the surgeon’s lounge, ignore the cookies, chips, and sodas. Instead, get fruit or yogurt or go a little farther out of the way and bring healthy snacks from home. 

2. Adopt a regular meditation practice

The healthier your mind is, the more willpower you’ll have at your disposal. Exercise your mind with regular meditation, taking time out of your busy day to breathe, reflect, and recharge your batteries.  

CAUTION!   If my research is correct, more than half of you just tried to either skip over this one or think I have gone off the deep end. I understand, because I thought that too. That is until I finally eased into many of these techniques. I will share some ideas in a future blog. Until then, just take three deep breaths and keep an open mind. (Pun intended.)

3. Prioritize sleep

Surgeons are notorious for staying up late, waking up early, and giving 110% all day long. However, this isn’t an optimal schedule for boosting your willpower, and your brain would be a lot stronger if you simply got enough sleep. Sleep refreshes your mind so that it’s able to practice self-control. How about starting to go to sleep 15 minutes earlier than usual or than you “want to?”

4. Exercise your willpower muscle daily

Willpower is like a muscle; you can build it through repetitive exercise. As such, start by setting small, daily goals. For example, let’s say you always try to squeeze in one last task before leaving the house in the morning, but as a result, you’re perpetually late. Instead of giving in to your routine, challenge yourself to get out the door at exactly ____am without performing any last-minute tasks. If you push yourself regularly in this way, slowly but surely your willpower muscle will strengthen.

On next week’s blog, we’ll be talking about very specific tools that you can adopt to exercise and grow your willpower. In the meantime, try to incorporate the suggestions mentioned in today’s article, and see how much you can increase your willpower in just a few short days.