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7 Ways to boost willpower

By Matt O'Neill, MSc(Nut&Diet), APD

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You are putting the effort into your fitness workouts. But are you neglecting your mindset? Think about adding these seven "willpower workouts" to create an even stronger, healthier you.





But first, rethink your belief about willpower.

The idea of personal willpower is loaded with pressure & guilt - but it doesn't have to be.

The mindset exercises below will help you rethink how willpower works. They will liberate you from thoughts about having a weak willpower & energise you to train your willpower.


7 Ways to boost your willpower

Willpower is like a muscle. It gets stronger when you use it. But, like a muscle, willpower can become fatigued if you don't look after it & know the limits of your willpower.

Each of the seven willpower workouts below will support your willpower by resting it & allowing it to recover properly. Or put another way... Why would you risk having to use willpower only when you've got a suite of strategies that combine into a powerful motivating force for wellbeing.


1. Set a powerful goal


Set one powerfully, personal goal. This gives your willpower an anchor to hold onto when the seas get rough.

Your goal may be about health, energy or confidence. Keep your goal top of mind every day, so you don't lose sight of it. Write it down & post it on your fridge. When the going is tough, your goal reminds you why you are doing this.


2. Make a plan


A plan is a rehearsal for success & takes the pressure off your willpower when you need to implement your plan.

Weekly menus, shopping lists, exercise schedules all help to support your willpower, by minimising the surprises and detours that can test your willpower.


3. Remove temptations


Until your willpower is fit and has stamina, don't fatigue it with food challenges in the form of treats.

Out of sight is out of mind. You don't need the cookie jar to trigger your willpower, especially in the early stages of eating well. Remove treats from the house. Get rid of the "naughty cupboard" or draw. Instead of a cookie jar, keep a fruit bowl on the bench to encourage better food choices.


4. Recruit support


Let family, friends or workmates know that supporting you rather than tempting you, is what you need to keep your willpower strong.

Tell them they are part of your willpower workouts & ask them not to undermine your self-control with mentions or offers of cake or alcohol.

Your strengthened willpower will rub off on them too!


5. Set reminders


Reminders help you build new habits. And it's healthy habits that do the heavy lifting on a daily basis for your willpower.

Post-it notes, smart phone alarms & alerts, a gym-bag packed the night before - these reminders all help until your willpower is fit enough to make your healthy behaviours automatic.


6. Manage your mood


Like your mobile phone, your willpower needs to recharge regularly. Sleep & relaxation charge your willpower.

A chaotic schedule, sleep deprivation & stress all cause you to overly rely on & drain your willpower. Make sleep, relaxation, time-out or you-time a priority. Leveling your mood ensures your willpower goes from strength to strength.


7. Strengthen self-contol


Each time you resist a treat, you willpower muscle grows.

Like a heavy weight at the gym, resisting a treat takes an effort. But do it once or twice & willpower grows stronger, making it easier to resist temptation.

Next time someone offers you a treat, pause before you accept it. Remind yourself why you are doing this - your powerful goal - you'll surprise yourself how strong you are.

Think differently about willpower & make willpower fitness just as important as physical exercise!


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