Quitting smoking, getting back to the gym, excelling at work, eating better… these are all things that require willpower. Here’s a look at the power we have when it comes to doing or not doing something.

Willpower is the capacity to freely decide whether we do certain things, or not. It’s the mental faculty that allows us to:

  • Fight procrastination – why do today what I can put off to tomorrow?
  • Get rid of bad habits
  • Achieve our objectives
  • Make our dreams come true

You use your willpower every day, and more often than you realize. You forego indulgence or immediate satisfaction – you resist, show real control – and choose instead to delay gratification:

  • At the grocery store, when you walk right past the chips and candy bars, preferring instead to be healthy and happy about eating well.
  • At the wheel you resist the temptation to go over the speed limit and avoid a hefty speeding ticket.

The old English proverb is right: Where there is a will, there is a way!

And what if you wanted even more?

Willpower, just another muscle to exercise?

Several studies approach willpower as though it were a muscle, in the sense that it can improve with practice.

The secret lies in repetition – the more we exercise our willpower, the more naturally it will come.

Developing your willpower takes patience and hard work, but the results are worth it.

Develop your willpower

1. “Know thyself” said Socrates

To resist caving in to your cravings, you first have to know what they are. Learn to distinguish between need and desire.

Think about the goals you want to accomplish and the dreams you have for the future.

Draw up a list of bad habits or behaviours that you need to keep in check, because willpower is all about developing self-control. Once your list is ready, decide what you’re going to attack first.

Don’t try to change everything or do everything at once. Take your time and go step by step.

2. One step at a time

Once your priority has been identified, give yourself small challenges and then step up the pace. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Would you like to learn to say no to a demanding boss or colleague? The first time will be the hardest. But careful! Don’t go to extremes simply for the pleasure of affirming yourself. Think before saying no. Consider the circumstances.

Are you hooked on technology? Start by disconnecting for a day, like when you’re on vacation for instance. Go on an adventure and leave your phone behind. You’ll survive, don’t worry. And remember, it’ll be easier the next time around.

3. Change your way of seeing things

Consider things from a different point of view, change your perspective and it’ll change your attitude and make the transition easier from today to the hoped-for tomorrow.

If you decide to start running, don’t think about the 10 km ahead of you to reach your goal. Put mental markers along the way and take it one kilometre at a time.

You know what to do now to build your willpower into a powerhouse. Most importantly, you need to take control of your life so that you’re able to resist passing temptations and make wiser choices that will be better for you in the future.