Build Your Willpower Daily
By Chris Brown
Behind any successful person lies their ability to accomplish long-term tasks. Willpower is the secret behind this ability to do the things we don't want to do and put off short-term gratification in favor of long-term success. The famous "Stanford Marshmallow Test" found that children who delayed gratification of a marshmallow now for double the marshmallows later had better career and health outcomes later in life. Since then, research has discovered that willpower is not just a static, inherent trait. It can be developed, like a muscle, with repetition. Instead of gym time, however, willpower must be gained throughout the day by deploying a range of willpower exercises.
Practice delayed gratification - Practicing daily delayed gratification will alter your mindset toward accomplishing necessary, but boring tasks. Even small acts, like making your bed each morning, can result in dividends of gained willpower throughout the day.
Visualize trials of willpower - Visualization is a strong psychological tool. The body often physically responds equally to imagined scenarios as it would with real ones. Visualizing the completion of tasks, or avoiding the candy bowl at work, can build strength for accomplishing those goals in real life.
Give yourself rewards for completed tasks - Brains are wired to value immediate over delayed rewards. By incorporating a small treat when a willpower task is completed, such as a candy after a run, you can override your reward system by satisfying the need for instant gratification.
Meditate - Meditation is weight training for your mind and willpower. Daily meditation, the practice of controlling your thinking by focusing on the present, measurably improves willpower after only eight weeks according to one study.
Follow a diet - Following a strict diet is the ultimate test of daily discipline as you refuse tasty, unhealthy treats. Plus, the healthy energy in good foods has been shown to increase willpower on its own.
Exercise regularly - An exercise routine keeps your willpower strong with physical displays of disciplined success. Not to mention, the more often your gym sessions, the greater the immediate satisfaction becomes. This will intertwine your drive of immediate with long-term gratification.
Don't overdo willpower all at once - A major mistake is trying to do too much at once. Like any muscle, you can overwork willpower in the short term. By deciding to change all bad habits at the start, you may be more apt to burn out and quit on positive change altogether. Start with one or two small acts of willpower and then add more, like increasing weight at the gym.
View willpower as an unlimited resource - Your willpower mindset has a lot to do with how much willpower you have, according to a Stanford University study. It found that participants who thought of willpower as unlimited had more self-control than those who believed it could be depleted.
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