I’ve always been under the assumptions that willpower is indefinite. The truth is that it has a daily expiry, and each person has a different threshold of willpower that they can endure before their day ends. Luckily, there are things you can do to extend your willpowers lifeline!
Watch For These BurnersThe most miniscule things in your daily activity can burn your matches. Watch what happens to your energy levels when:
- You stare at your open fridge deciding what you’re going to prepare for dinner
- You try on different outfits before choosing one and heading out for the day
- You don't have a schedule for your day and spend time wondering what to do
My Best Advice
Every choice you make uses willpower. The best advice I can give is to budget and shape the day ahead of you. It can be as easy as getting ready for the next day before you head to bed. A great mantra to follow is: “tomorrow starts tonight.” To limit the use of your willpower I find it helpful to make thoughtful plans. This means to have a set starting time for your arrangements: you do not start your meeting around 3ish, you start right at 3. Having a built or written out schedule can help you stay true to the strict start times.
The Happiness Index
Do you know what drains or replenishes you? What gives you energy, and what interactions or activities leave you feeling tired or grumpy? Like most things in life, it’s about finding a balance. Sometimes we are so focused on what we think we should be doing based on social norms that we make poor decisions for what is truly best for us.
I’ll give you an example: I am an introvert, and while I enjoy chatting and engaging in social interactions it doesn’t leave me feeling energized. I usually have to build myself up for the encounters and hype myself up before heading out the door. I like my alone time and blocking myself out from the world at times. More often than not I cancel plans to be with me. This is nothing more than me investing in myself and knowing when my willpower is running low on the day. It’s nothing to take personally, I just don’t have the energy. The best investment you can make is in yourself. This all comes back to trying your best. Be OKAY with trying your best.
Measuring Willpower Awareness
You can measure your own willpower with a simple x and y-axis table. The y-axis is a scale ranging from ‘ good for you’ to ‘ for you.’ The x-axis represents ‘willpower draining’ to ‘willpower boosting’. My favourite examples are from Olympic runner, Alexis Pappas, in her book Bravey. She uses examples like riding her bike is good for her but willpower draining (it's a great cross-train, but it reminds her how much she would rather be running), a night out partying is bad for her but willpower enhancing, or a night spent on a Red-Eye flight is bad for her and willpower draining. Completing this exercise will give you a better idea of what activities are willpower boosting versus willpower draining.
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