Willpower. Self-control. Self discipline. These are many names that all mean the same thing: having the mental strength and attitude to consciously do the things you know you must do. Yes – even when you don’t emotionally want to.
When you learn how to improve your willpower, you learn how to strengthen a skill that helps across your live. Improved willpower is associated with being happier, scoring higher on standardized tests and earning more money. Willpower is also highly correlated with accomplishing personal goals.
What you may not know however, is that willpower is a resource that you can call upon – and at the same time, it is also a skill that you can improve.
I’ll show you seven scientific, research backed way you can improve your own personal self discipline today
#1: Remove Temptation
Willpower is a limited resource – so don’t waste it. Everytime you need to tell yourself “no” to a temptation in front of you, you slowly deplete your willpower – and it takes time to replenish. So whenever possible: remove the temptations from your life.
For example, if you know that you watch too much TV, and need to focus on a project for the next month – cancel your cable, or physically unplug your TV from the wall. As a personal example, I know I’ll eat junk food if it is in the house – so I never keep any in my home.
#2: Stabilize Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar is associated with diminished self discipline. Avoid eating sugary foods such as candy or high sugar drinks. Of course, it’s a bit of a catch 22 – it takes self discipline to avoid eating tasty, sugary foods to begin with!
Make sure you get enough of it. Research has shown that the ability to maintain focus on tasks suffers due to lack of sleep.
#4: Enjoy Life
Positive emotional experiences replenish your self discipline reserve. So throughout the day – take a few moments to enjoy your life
I love to take breaks and run, play guitar, hike and do other activities that inspire me – find what works for you.
#5: Avoid and Reduce Stress
Stress has shown to deplete self discipline. Reducing commitments, breathing exercises and yoga has personally helped me reduce stress in my life.
#6: Have a Plan
Research shows that when your willpower starts getting depleted, having a plan and a goal you are chasing can help mitigate the effects of lowered willpower.
#7: Self Affirmations
Similar to positive emotional experiences, self affirmations have been shown to help replenish depleted willpower.
#8: Bonus: Strengthen Your Willpower
Self discipline is a muscle – focus on small tasks that you can control, and your ability to stick to larger tasks will slowly increase.
Some examples of exercise include straightening your posture and using your non-dominant hand for tasks. For example, try brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Try switching which hand you hold dishes in, and which hand you scrub dishes in.