How to improve your willpower

Research suggests that being successful is all about willpower.

Would you like to be more successful? Research suggests that it’s all about willpower. Having good willpower and self-control has been linked to higher levels of success in every aspect of life – from improved mental and physical health, to being liked.

According to Dr Roy Baumeister, the Francis Eppes Eminent Scholar in the psychology department at Florida State University, willpower can help us achieve any goal we choose. He also says the notion that some people have naturally better willpower than others is a myth.

“It's not a constant feature of your character that you have good or bad willpower,” Dr Baumeister said. “It certainly can be improved. It's not something locked in.”

Most of the time, people who show the best willpower are making concerted efforts to avoid temptation. For example, a person battling a sweet tooth won’t allow themselves to walk down the confectionary aisle in the supermarket.  

So how can you boost your willpower? Here are some points to keep in mind that Dr Baumeister recommends:

1.      Exercise the willpower muscle

Like any muscle, willpower requires regular training to become stronger. Practicing self-control activities, such as eating smaller portions and smoking fewer cigarettes each day, are good ways to start. It’s about being consistent. “Overriding habitual ways of doing things” and “exerting deliberate control over your actions,” he says.

2.      Don’t overdo it

No one taps into an infinite source of willpower – it takes energy to have self-control. It’s important to make sure that you don’t overdo it and end up sapping your motivation. You might find it easy to resist temptation early in the day, but by the afternoon that chocolate bar is looking mighty irresistible. Here, it’s about being mindful about what you want and what you actually need to keep going.

3.      Sugar helps – no, really!

Ironically (for those trying to cut down on snacks) the energy that fuels willpower is glucose. Our body needs certain foods to produce glucose, which the blood then carries to the brain, muscles and organs.

Research shows that people don’t perform optimally when their glucose levels drop. But don’t reach for your lolly stash straight away. High-sugar snacks will cause your glucose to peak temporarily, but the only way to give yourself a sustained boost throughout the day is with wholefoods containing carbohydrates and natural sugars.

How do you manage your willpower?



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    7th Oct 2015
    more successful? We're retired
    7th Oct 2015
    Retired not dead. Don't you have anything in your life you want to succeed at or have you decided you are just waiting for death?
    8th Oct 2015
    I try to be successful every day.
    7th Oct 2015
    Moist of us need less willpower and more WON'TPOWER
    Polly Esther
    7th Oct 2015
    Will Power, what a guy.
    9th Oct 2015
    Will power is a muscle.
    7th Oct 2015
    This article is not very useful.

    If the writer had taken a little extra time to add some "how to" advice rather than a fuzzy approach it would have some value.

    For example, telling people to "... give yourself a sustained boost throughout the day with wholefoods ..." is useless with out supporting the tip with saying why it is so and suggesting specific wholefoods to eat.

    Warm-fuzzy articles like this don't really help anyone. They just fill space.
    7th Oct 2015
    4:21pm don't look too happy about it.
    9th Oct 2015
    He he he, I have a suspicion you know the answer to that D'Arcy and you're holding back on us? :)
    Ageing but not getting old
    7th Oct 2015
    In ;the opening blurb with the link to this article, you used the phrase "Practice makes perfect". NO ONE is perfect; we only drive ourselves int0 a frenzy, with anxiety and poor self esteem if we are trying to achieve it. As with any habit or goal, Practice makes PROFICIENT!
    8th Oct 2015
    When I told my friends and family I was going to Bungy-Jump when we visited Queenstown on a recent New Zealand holiday, to a man they scoffed and guffawed. Best motivation I could have had.
    9th Oct 2015
    4. Don't forget to love yourself. It's a wonderful thing. It took me years to learn this most valuable life lesson.
    I've heard people say fear stops them from achieving their goals. On reflection, I learned that fear of the past was my biggest motivator. I have achieved every goal I set for myself and without blaming anything on Will Power.

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