Do you start off each day with the biggest goals for health but maybe by 6pm you’re eating leftovers from your kids’ plate or hitting the drive through on the way home from work? Maybe you can walk by the candy bowl Monday through Thursday, but on Friday’s you just can’t help yourself. Or maybe you start a new diet or new workout plan every 3 months because you can just never get one to stick. This happens to everyone, partially because we are SO busy in modern life and partially because we’ve come to accept it as a normal happening. We accept the excuses of being tired, not wanting to even think about what to make for dinner, literally running out of F’s to give… BUT what if instead of continuing to flounder and spin your tires, you looked for ways to sustain your willpower throughout the day.
I like to think of willpower as a zero sum game. The less I have to use my willpower during the day, the more I will have for when times are tough. Here are 4 habits to help you keep your cup of willpower full, for when you truly need it.
- Make fewer decisions! For example, eat the same thing for breakfast every day. Boring? Maybe. Or maybe you haven’t found the right breakfast for you. The right breakfast should be something that moves you towards your goals and something that you enjoy, if your breakfast checks these two boxes then it will be something you can sustain and rely on every day. Boom. One less decision. That drop of will power that you used to use to choose between left over fruit loops and a Starbucks mocha-frappa-latte or your egg white burrito can now be used to make sure you power through your next challenge. The top achievers in the world take this concept even broader. Wear the same thing every day. Wake up and follow the same routine every day. Routine = more brainpower/willpower at your fingertips that you can use to actually move you towards your goals. Stop wasting your precious resource on the mundane decisions like what to eat for breakfast every day.
- The habit snowball. Doing too much too soon rarely results in success. Find one thing that you can do every day. The importance or “bigness” of the habit does not matter, what matters is that you check that box daily. Seriously, every day. Don’t skip. Once that habit feels natural and easy, add another. The first few habits are usually the hardest to stick to. But if you slowly but surely build your habits, you’ll find you have this giant snowball of habit momentum, and you can add any new habit and make it stick! You will have so much awesome momentum that you couldn’t even stop your habits if you tried. And once again, your willpower and energy can be focused on other things in your life.
- Reflect. Things that are truly, truly important to you come easier. I’m not saying that because you really want to lose fat or get a six pack or sleep better that suddenly you won’t be tempted by the left over chicken nuggets from your kids’ plate. But I am saying that you’ll be stronger when you are tempted. When you spend the time to think about what you want it’s usually “the why” that drives the importance of “the what.” Once you identify and embrace the why, you’ll find much more strength and willpower is within you.
- Plan Your Indulgences. Knowing that you are getting a “pass” makes it easier to stick to the plan. Having those indulgences be routine is even better. If you have something to look forward to that fills your heart up a bit, you’ll be even stronger when faced with challenges. You can easily drive by the coffee shop Monday through Friday if you know every Saturday you get to enjoy your favorite caffeinated beverage while you grocery shop for the next week. While you savor this delicious indulgence, you’ll feel empowered and full of strength to make the best choices at the supermarket to set yourself up for success in the upcoming days. Use the indulgences to strengthen your routine!