How to Increase Your Willpower: Part Three

So far in this three-part series on willpower, we’ve discussed daily practices and tools surgeons can use to strengthen their willpower muscle, so that they can accomplish their goals and avoid burnout. Today, the final installment is dedicated to strategic ways you can go about exercising your willpower, to increase your chances of success.

Identify the Time of Day When your Willpower is Strongest

No matter how strong it is, willpower fluctuates throughout the day. Some people have more willpower in the morning, while others have more late at night. The key is to figure out when you are most resilient and plan your day accordingly. Find your Rhythm!

For example, if your willpower is weakest one part of the day, that is the best time to have planned ahead with strategies to avoid temptation. I think this is particularly important when working to break a “bad” diet, lifestyle or workday habit.

If your willpower is strongest in the morning, try waking up earlier to tackle key cognitive tasks before meeting with patients, performing routine administrative tasks in the afternoon, and ending your day earlier for recharge activities.

Be Strategic About Handling Key Tasks

For many surgeons, attempting to tackle a large project all at once can rapidly drain their willpower and lead to frustration. Instead, try to chip away at daunting tasks, which can increase your feelings of success, improve your work product, and boost your willpower over time. Chipping away means setting smaller more realistic goals that are achievable. Simplicity!

Choose your Peers Wisely

Spend time with people who have a positive impact on your willpower. For example, surround yourself with other surgeons, friends, and family members who keep you motivated to stay on track with your goals. Conversely, try to minimize contact with people who repeatedly put you in situations where your willpower is tested.


It’s important to remember that this is a process. You’ll inevitably have days where you’re more tested than others, and that’s okay.

Be mindful of situations that challenge your resolve and remember your ultimate objective:

To build your willpower on a daily basis so that you can achieve more sustainable success in your career, life, and relationships without burnout!

Let me know your thoughts!