Is Willpower a Renewable Resource?

willpower believeThis is a tricky subject. Willpower is the strength or ability to avoid immediate temptations in order to achieve long term or future goals. This is something many struggle with regardless of those long term goals, be they weight loss, fitness, eating better, saving money, quitting a bad habit/forming a good habit, etc. Many people feel that willpower is something you’re born with, part of your genetics or inner construction. Which may be why we often claim “I have NO willpower” and blame your supposed weakness(es) on missing out on the genetic lottery as opposed to actually having control over it.

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news – which is actually GREAT news I think. Willpower is completely under your control! It is NOT genetic, but IS all a state of your mind and directly related to the amount of use or practice.

Just like a muscle, Willpower must be used often and regularly to become stronger. Just like a renewable resource, we absolutely can run out of willpower (temporarily) but it IS renewable. The more you use it the faster it replenishes.

So HOW does this all work?

Just like any workout routine, it’s better to start out slow and small, gradually building up your strength and endurance. If you go too big too soon you will quickly exhaust what willpower you have and it may be a long time to recover. Also, like working out, consistency is key. You can’t flex your willpower muscles once a week or month and expect to see drastic changes.

  1. Set small, easily achievable willpower goals (I will allow myself one Halloween candy/day as opposed to cutting out all sugar, dairy, gluten, red meat and prepackaged foods right NOW).smart goal 3
  2. Set yourself up for success. It’s not so much about wanting to have willpower in a situation as it is preparing to exercise it. If you are trying to quit smoking, avoid settings and situations that encourage that behavior and could further test your willpower making it that much more difficult to resist temptation.
  3. There are numerous factors that can affect your willpower. Being cognizant of your emotions, your environment and even the people you are with can have tremendous impact (positive or negative) on YOUR willpower. A bad day at work; a rough morning at home; a stressful commute can all “weaken” a person’s resolve sapping them of their willpower. Your physical environment and surroundings can affect willpower. If you’re trying to be more active and eat better but are stuck in a tiny cubicle for 10 hours a day with little to no breaks and there is a constant supply of donuts in the office this can deplete your supply. If you are surrounded by supportive friends and family, they will strengthen your willpower but if not, this too can drain it all away in a, exercising, working out
  4. Willpower is renewable and sometimes all you need is time to recharge it. If you find your resolve slipping or willpower waning, try removing yourself from the scene and taking a break (physical or mental). This is often enough for people to come back with renewed vigor and the (will)power to resist whatever may be tempting them.trail, hiking trail, walking
  5. Use it or lose it. The more you use or test your willpower, the stronger you become. You will be able to set bigger goals and resist larger temptations. It is really about your state of mind, making choices, and in truth, about forming a new, good habit, which takes time, practice and patience.

Breathe. Do something silly. Get more sunlight
Read 55 Ways to Take Care of Yourself
health, wellness, thankfulness, november, gratitude, finding happiness
Want to live a happier life? Here are some tips
on How to Choose Happiness.

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Author: tammyjuco

Motivating and assisting you and your family to a healthier and happier lifestyle.


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