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Contents.....................................................................................................................................................................1 Maximize Your Motivation, Determination, and Perseverance................................................................................2 ..................................................................................................................................................................................4 Tried and tested tips to get you more self-disciplined today.....................................................................................5 Boost Your Self-Motivation Today...........................................................................................................................9 Do You Have No Willpower?.................................................................................................................................12
repeatedly refusing to sign documents decrying American aggression in Southeast Asia presented to him by the North Vietnamese after his crash and imprisonment. Leeches. trying to make it to Thailand. and became a US Navy pilot. We can all persevere even when we think we can’t. As a child in Germany. After 23 days surviving in the jungle. he drew inspiration from the memory of how his grandfather had been the only person in their village strong enough not to vote for Hitler during elections. he managed to escape. facing massive life changes after divorce. eating snakes but always on the edge of starvation. he was captured by enemy troops. he lived on the streets in Manhattan. we all need to be iron-gritted in our determination sometimes. but… Motivated to persevere He was shot down on his first mission over Vietnam. he sold scrap metal to raise money and hitch-hiked to Hamburg to get passage to America. injured. starvation. He was the only POW ever to escape and survive during the Vietnam War.Maximize Your Motivation. He was a survivor. He got used to feeding off garbage. eventually achieved his dream. He never gave up hope. and misery followed. keeping a family together. Once in the US.it wasn’t. or going for the kind of life you feel you must live. he was rescued by a US helicopter. and resolved to one day fly for the United States of America. making a business work. “I can’t go on!” Whether it’s: • • • • • • • facing illness. At one point. he and another man thought they’d been spotted by US planes and rescue was imminent . His father had been killed in the war and his mother was desperately poor. He continued a successful career as a pilot for many years. danger. doing a degree. but was recaptured. How to increase determination and maximize motivation Okay. but we all sometimes need to keep going when every part of us is screaming. They kept going. he held out for months. People were starving to death in Germany after WW2. They managed to escape and overpower their guards. He had been behind enemy lines for over six months. there was no time to lose. He studied for years (sometimes living in an upturned boat). During these times. most of us don’t experience such stark conditions as Dieter Dengler (1). 2 . In these conditions. getting into peak physical shape. He joined other captives and instigated an escape plan. His friend was killed by villagers. Determination. but managing to evade capture. He kept on alone. and Perseverance 6 ways to uncover your true grit "It takes perseverance to climb high" courtesy of jfdervin As a prisoner of war in the steamy jungles of Vietnam. he had looked up and marvelled at the US enemy planes. The prisoners heard their captors planning to kill them. despite threats of execution. Eventually. sick. His weight had dropped to 93 pounds.
The more you exercise your will and determination. Now take the second sheet and write down all the things you need to do to make your life as it is now more like the life you’d like to have. If you have to keep on. Most people in history have had to educate themselves if they wanted to improve. a picture of a ‘one-off genius’ like Einstein. I remember when I was a child distinctly feeling on occasion a palpable. seeing. Tip 4: Think about what you really want “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. into solutions . like a muscle. This will be your initial blueprint. Every detail counts. research (2) shows we draw more inspiration from reading. Ancient Australian aboriginals threw hardwood spears 110 meters or more (the current world javelin record is 98. We can think ourselves out of problems.48m) (3). say. write down how you’d like to be living. We become cleverer (in tests) if we see photos of ‘clever-looking people’ rather than. I mention how important it is not to fall into the trap of having to constantly feel emotionally rewarded by stuff you do in order to actually get on with it. it’s a major deal. or thinking about a type of person rather than a one-off ‘outlier’. Therefore. he’s a lovely guy. or modern medicine.and it shows. whilst it can be useful to draw inspiration from extraordinary individuals (like Dieter Dengler or Helen Keller). almost physical. gets stronger the more you use it. Tip 2: Don’t think. Tip 3: Strengthen your will by exercising it I have a lazy friend. So remember that even when it feels tough. but he’s not used to work . Here I want to present a few more ideas to help you persevere and get going when times are tough. 3 . then start to ignore these kinds of thoughts. all progress depends on the unreasonable man. sometimes we need to just keep on without thinking until the ‘nose down to the grindstone’ times have passed. a sense that my determination was a thing I could feel. Remember that you can update this blueprint as you go. resolute. just act Thinking is vital and much of human folly happens because we don’t think.but also out of doing what we should. Today I’ll use self-hypnosis to recapture that and get that real ‘iron core’ feeling when I really need it. Athens employed 30. Tip 5: Imagine an iron centre within you Sometimes life calls for you to be irrepressible. social security. determination within me. But if it seems too unreasonable to you…it might not be at all.” ~ George Bernhard Shaw What do you want your life to be like? Are you happy living the way you are living? Take two sheets of paper. It’s much harder for him to do anything than most people. Most people in history have had to survive without healthcare. So consider that: • • • • • Roman legions completed more than one-and-a-half marathons a day carrying more than half their body weight in equipment. it will get easier. unassailable. around situations. the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Don’t get me wrong. He’s healthy and fit enough. “I can’t go on” is a thought that may be useful or it may be self-deception. Tip 1: Draw inspiration from others Actually. When times are tough. On one sheet. but he’s so unaccustomed to work or exertion that if you ask him to do anything.000 rowers who could all exceed the achievements of modern oarsmen. the more naturally motivated you will begin to feel. and super-focused.In the articles 7 Self-Discipline Techniques and Boost Your Self-Motivation Today. Recent research showed that willpower.
See Werner Herzog’s documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997).even if it’s not exactly what you had planned. If your intentions are good and you keep working. 1. something will happen . listen to this free audio session. You just don’t know how close you are to a breakthrough. 4 .To get a sense of what I mean. Edmund Hillary could have stopped climbing Everest. 3. Suggestibility: How to be an Einstein According to Peter McAllister’s book entitled Manthropology: The Secret Science of Modern Male Inadequacy. Helen Keller could have stopped learning to communicate. Tip 6: Never give up! The night is always darkest just before dawn. Don’t stop. Dieter Dengler could have stopped walking in the jungle. and Thomas Edison could have given up on the light bulb. See my article. If you do nothing. nothing happens. 2.
and massively extended. We had fallen for the biggest myth in the book. If I didn’t I’d be hopeless!” Then it hit me. I stayed over at Alan’s house one night and was awoken at 6am (on a Saturday morning) by the melodious sound of his singing guitar. If you really want to succeed at a task then self-discipline is essential. built upon. The myth of easy success Celebrities have never been more visible in our culture. to which he’d added. Exercising self-discipline can make the difference between an averagely talented person doing something amazing with their lives and a naturally talented person realizing very little of their potential. uninformed into expert. We were wrong about Alan to assume that his guitar magic had somehow been dished out to him like a Porsche given to an indulged adolescent on reaching eighteen. Alan was gifted. At school we thought of him as an incredibly ’gifted‘ guitarist and he’s since gone on to travel the world making a very good living at what he loves to do. Famous sportspeople. Sure. “What are you doing?” I yawned. Yes. perhaps even insignificant. or smell it. But what we don’t see are the thousands of hours of super-focused work these people have put in behind the scenes. Self-discipline makes you happier. 5 . You can’t see. and musicians are all over the media. luck plays its role and who doesn’t need the ‘lucky break’? But self-discipline prepares you to ride that break all the way to the shore. It can transform fat into slim. Life is not a waiting room Life isn’t some waiting room in which to ’kill time‘ with repetitive self-amusements. But anyone who has achieved anything has done so because they’ve been able to control and direct their own inner lives and actions to the extent that has enabled them to become super-able at what they do. That taught me something profound. taste. • Self-discipline can. I became good friends with him and soon learned the truth. It’s easy to feel that success comes easily. misery into happiness. overcome lack of natural talent. It’s the submerged part of the iceberg others don’t see when they see your ’genius‘. that it’s just a question of self-belief.” “I always start the day with two hours of practice and do three hours in the evening. there is such a thing as natural talent but: • Natural talent counts for little unless it’s supercharged by self-discipline. sag into buff.Tried and tested tips to get you more self-disciplined today We called Alan ’lucky’. to some extent. “It’s 6am. but this was a gift that had started out small. it gives you that sense of real achievement earned through sheer intensity of sustained focus. but its effects are huge. wonderful actors. Over the years I’ve come to see self-discipline as an invisible magic. poor into rich. Alan had made his own gift.
and tears’. can be developed. a finished novel. anyway!” (Remember: your day ain’t over ‘til it’s done. B. You may think you are serious and even tell others how serious you are. Better you keep silent and get on with it than delude yourself and others. Every morning. but victory was the greater goal for the whole nation. we may find it easier to be self-disciplined. Do the following sound familiar? “I don’t want to overdo it!” “I’ll start it when the weather gets better!” “Well it’s too late now to do it. 3 – Dump the excuses Be honest with yourself. the money’s good but I’m not getting up at that time!” Choosing to do something or not based on whether it feels comfortable/pleasurable or not is a disaster. do it!” “Yeah. We’re all encouraged to feel something should entertain us before it is worthwhile.) “I’m not getting support from others so I won’t bother then!” “I’m not going to do it at all now if you’re going to take that attitude!” 6 . but we can all develop more. The following self-discipline tips have been gleaned from how top achievers manage and develop ability. Literally. We become brainwashed with messages like: “Don’t do it unless you feel like it!” “If it feels good. If I waited to ‘feel like it’ before exercising or working or making that tricky phone call or putting in the occasional all-nighter to meet a deadline. Try them: Tip 1 – Don’t wait to ’feel like it’ In some ways.Self-discipline. sweat. Focus on the long-term ’big outcome‘ and self-discipline will naturally follow. you can’t finish your day until what you set out to do has been done. Respect yourself enough to keep your own promises to yourself. I’m not kidding. like a muscle. How much you want to achieve a greater goal (be it weight loss. then I would be much less disciplined than I am now and believe me that would be really bad. exercising self-discipline is harder than ever before. Really think about: A. : o “Don’t have a wishbone where your backbone should be!” 2 – Finish what you start (as a point of honour) Winston Churchill could only offer the British people ‘blood. If we were raised in a disciplined environment. How serious you really are. get up (yes do please get up!) and tell yourself: “Today is not over until I have done…” – whatever you need to do that day. or mastering a musical instrument). but only your actions really convey how genuine you are. new business.
Likewise. No one else put pressure on him to practice so much. it’s non-negotiable When we start to question whether we are really going to get down to some work. whether it’s too late to make a start. sign it in front of a friend or several people. But if you don’t. than actually doing the thing you’re trying to avoid. so you already have an external deadline. Tell yourself: “I’m not going to go for the run now because I’m too soft and lazy. 4 – Sorry. But if you have important things to do. we start to ’leak‘ motivation. Maybe you do contract work or a publisher is expecting your work by a certain time. Harder. 7 – Don’t get hijacked by trivia We all have a need to complete things. But if you are going to make excuses. tell yourself: “I’m not going to listen to excuses or wimp-outs – this is non-negotiable!” Remember the words of Abraham J. rather. Stop mistaking excuses for credible reasons. If there are no external deadlines. Don’t believe your own PR. If you need to write 100. External deadlines – working to deliver what others expect from you – can massively boost your drive to succeed. whether we should watch the James Bond movie on TV instead. and ask them to remind you of your deadline when it arrives and sign again that you have completed it. If people say what you plan is not possible or sneer at your efforts. Proving others wrong is a greatly underrated pleasure. use it to fire your energy and strength. I have used all the above excuses and many more besides to mask my own laziness or fear. Print off a letter of intent. 6 – Ignore the naysayers Other people can exert an immensely negative effect… if we let them. then create an internal one (such as “by July the 1st I’m going to be 12 pounds slimmer”) and make it external by telling as many people as possible.” Or: “I’ve decided not to give that speech now because I’m too cowardly!” I’ve tried this and you know what? Honesty can be hard to take. tell other people that on a certain date you are going to get back to them to tell them you’ve done it. But if he had a concert coming up. Playing endless computer games or watching TV thrillers can leave you feeling satisfied 7 . the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself. but never accept negativity from people who haven’t themselves achieved what it is you are set upon achieving. be it a story we are reading or an opera we are composing. Heschel: “Self-respect is the fruit of discipline. then make some.000 words in two months. Don’t let words or even negative facial expressions deter you. then trivial things can ’hijack’ this need for completion. an important project. they set an expectation in your brain that you really want fulfilled. Don’t let them. things to learn. in fact.” 5 – The pull of the external deadline Alan made promises to himself and he had enough self-respect to keep these promises. don’t fall for them yourself. he worked even harder. Make selfdiscipline ’non-negotiable‘. lest you think I’m holier than thou – perish the thought. External deadlines work. If someone starts to tell you a joke (or a piece of gossip). Seek the advice of experts by all means and learn from the best. start being honest. don’t be deterred by this.Now. I’m guessing you don’t um and ah about whether to clean your teeth or pull the chain in the toilet (I’m hoping) – these things are unquestioned by you. In fact.
” 8 . self-respect. This is like meeting your physical hunger by eating junk. As Alan said: “I have to be true to myself. and improved physical and mental health. The happy by-products of discipline are success. you leave your need for completion free to work on what you really need to be focusing on. Self-discipline is the fuel that gets you places. You need to feel that things remain unfinished to keep focused and you need to devote valuable time and energy where it’s really needed. gaming. then no longer wanting to eat real nutrition. or even newspaper reading. else I feel like a fraud. By cutting out (or down) your consumption of TV.because something has been completed.
then we need to be able to save it and not waste it. how compelled are you to scratch it? Motivation in these contexts is easy to produce. no matter what the weather 9 . hate? How about self-discipline. But how do you ramp up your self-motivation? Let’s get going! 1) Be fuel-efficient First off. We need to be able to ‘run the machine’ using up very little emotion sometimes.motivation for me to get my darn car off your foot! If you develop a terrible itch. your true motivation for action would manifest immediately . If we see emotion as a type of fuel. We all are.000 (but averaged between 5. constructive. deadlines? Actually here’s a thing. You are able to be incredibly self-motivated! It’s true. passion. tailored suits. a massive advantage over 99% of people who have been trained by society to ‘only do stuff they feel motivated to do’. and valuable to them. Prolific writer H. Bedford-Jones wrote as many as 25. You can’t be forever whipped up. and even get out of bed in the mornings. Always having to feel excited so as to make sustained efforts is a dead end. But like getting a sugar hit when running a marathon. 2) Get going now. study more. what they really mean is that they want to purposefully direct their motivational force toward something positive.Boost Your Self-Motivation Today 7 tips to feel more motivated for a more meaningful life "Boost Your Self-Motivation Today" courtesy of Mattsip “How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’. If I park my car on your toe. We assume selfmotivation is fuelled by emotion and. had he been emotionally fired up in the writing of every word. But of course when people say they want more self-motivation. pretty soon the effect fades.” Martin Luther Where does self-motivation come from? Love. it often is. Inspirational speakers with strong jaw lines. he would have exhausted himself to the point of incapacity.400 magazine stories and 80 books. honour. I’ve worked with people who wanted help ramping up their motivation to get fitter.ready to take on the world. finish novels. start businesses. the really intense kind on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the itchiest). And a strange thing happens. at least initially. And this is great .000 and 10.000) words a day and produced over 1. Learning to act when not feeling like acting so you don’t have to constantly wait for ‘when the mood takes you’ will give you a self-motivation edge. given the right context. Now. The feeling of motivation gradually develops after you’ve started and made sustained efforts. just as you can’t always be maxing out on a sugar high. Get used to just doing without always feeling like it and you’ll develop willpower as surely as repeated lifting of a weight will build muscle. and overpoweringly white smiles whip up your emotions and what happens? You leave the seminar feeling motivated .in the short-term. So… Self-motivation needs to be sustainable. it’s a mistake to assume that motivation must always be linked to feeling motivated.
Or you may achieve more by default. No wonder he now felt completely de-motivated. but strategic planning is how the route needs to be negotiated. industrious. baby. planning. 10 .” A step in and of itself is not much of a thing. Talking. “How would you climb those stairs?” I asked. Worst of all. now he finally had a map to achievement. I sometimes find that so-called under-motivated people often just lack a realistic appreciation of what it takes to become successful. 6) Come on.they begin to seem like characters instead of real people. I worked helping a man who’d become depressed because all kinds of plans hadn’t come to fruition. the excitement of spinning something new begins to fade. There is never a ‘right time’ to do a difficult thing. it’s much harder to ramp up your own mojo. Ah. you’ll still achieve an awful lot ‘by default’. dreaming. 3) Shoot for the moon (and you’ll land amongst the stars) It’s worth being ambitious because even if you fall short of your ultimate goal. The stars are.” You don’t need to be a slave to having to feel constantly pumped up before you can take action. Self-motivation is the fuel. “the characters begin to stale off in my mind . and describing to loved ones your dreams and aspirations may come to replace action or even bury it completely. nay-saying. talented. light my fire Horror writer Stephen King feels that unless he writes every day when working on a new novel. If you hang with apathetic. We become like those with whom we associate. further than the moon. Find people (even if it’s online) who are positive. Wanting something immediately without bothering to plan and develop your strategy is like feeling that great musicians who have practiced for thousands of hours are just ‘lucky’. just as earth enshrines a grave. and commitment. and goal-focussed. but you do sometimes need to re-evoke some fire in your belly. People ‘catch success’. after all. 5) Don’t leap the staircase I recently heard a highly successful entrepreneur (and therefore seriously self-motivated individual) give her one piece of advice for budding business builders: “Start small and think big. But I noticed he’d never looked at what was behind apparent successes: the work. Make enough preparation. We devised a plan. the more ‘reasons’ we find for putting it off.really motivated people are motivating. Sometimes the more we put off doing something. then I pointed to some steps. The tale’s narrative edge starts to rust and I begin to lose my hold on the story’s plot and pace. You might think to yourself: “Who am I to be successful/talented/fulfilled/useful in the world?" I want you to think: “Who am I not to be!” 4) Catch successful attitudes – it’s infectious Hang out with motivated people. but be man or woman enough to know when you’re just hiding behind excuses. “One at a time!” he replied. or (dare I say) downright lazy types.Don’t wait until everything is ‘just right’ before you make a start. because attitudes rub off . Wanting success instantly is for children. but enough steps together can take you far indeed.
Take time to sit down and relax. enough reading. re-capture and amplify your original feelings and passion around your goal. consider how you’d feel if you didn’t really go for your dreams. Now. In fact. take a look at the Guinness Book of World Records. why not let me help you by listening to this quick free audio session. the college dropout does on occasion go on to create a global empire. 7) We’re a long time dead If you ever find your self-motivation slipping (and haven’t yet developed the capacity to get going without ‘feel good’ emotion flooding your brain). The couch potato does change her ways. Because the facts are that people do achieve amazing things. The greatest failure is failure to try. Close your eyes and consciously remind yourself of all the reasons to be motivated. And if you ever doubt what people who set their minds toward something are capable of. 11 .
But if not and if you have the strength of will. When low on verve. But is increasing willpower really akin to gaining more brute force? The mental equivalent of Popeye’s immense forearms? You and your mental muscles Yes. I’m sure you’ve had times when your intentions were good. and self-respect. So why does willpower sometimes desert us when our intentions were so good and worthy? Actually. we need to resort to less vegetarian tactics. But when willpower in the real world melts quicker than ice cream left on the seat of a Spanish hire car in August. Being able to say ‘no’ to yourself on occasion is vital. switching off the TV. or building that business didn’t really materialize. he’d tip open a can of spinach and quicker than you can say. practicing that instrument. would result in poorer health or wasted time is vital for a well-ordered and successful life.” ~ William McDougall Willpower was. determination. And knowing them will help boost your willpower. Willpower is a finite resource. never really a problem for Popeye. then read on. Willpower matters because it helps make the possible real. then making yourself exercise will mean you’ll have less ‘willpower reserve’ when sitting down to work on your dissertation. This is why you shouldn’t beat yourself up too much if your willpower sometimes sags after a particularly tough day. So resisting that Black Forest gateau. And lack of self-control has been linked to addiction. Perhaps you’re entirely happy with the way you and things are. Determination and making sacrifices and effort now for a later payoff can make the difference between happy fulfilment and a life squandered. if carried through. he’d renewed his vital drive and was back fighting villains (namely Bluto). interpersonal conflict. focusing on that project. developing greater willpower is remarkably similar to developing a muscle. As is overcoming inertia when it’s easier to do nothing or replace action with fantasy. What about you? Do you even need to boost willpower? Maybe you don’t strive to be different or better and maybe that’s fine. What is willpower? Willpower links to self-control. But there is more to it than that. It might just be that you’ve been using it up in areas outside of where you really want to use it. so too can an exertion of willpower in one area mean we have less available willpower to focus in another.Do You Have No Willpower? 7 tips to increase your willpower to previously unknown heights "Will your will get you up that mountain?" courtesy of Jasen Miller “Will is character in action.isn’t inexhaustible. as I recall. Willpower like any power . overeating. when you really believed what you wanted to do was positive and for the best…but somehow the actual doing of the exercise. Researchers at the University of Hamilton in Ontario (1) discovered that in just the same way we can exhaust a muscle (and therefore temporarily weaken it). there are some very good reasons why this happens. Some of this might surprise you. Controlling impulses that. This brings us to my first tip for boosting willpower: 12 . “What on earth did he see in Olive Oyl anyway?”. sticking to that diet. and underachievement.
run a marathon. using willpower literally fatigues the body (2). If you can avoid or limit your time with people who require you to exert willpower just by being with them. you might like to spend a few hours in the morning to give it the full force of your available willpower before the day has thrown other willpower-requiring temptations at you (such as that offer of a drink or movie outing). you’ll have more willpower to focus on what’s really important. Willpower is trainable (just like muscle power). And did you know using willpower even uses up physical energy in just the same way that using muscular effort does . the less able we are to manage insulin in our bodies. available glucose). too. Choose one thing to focus on. This may be one reason why authors or painters sometimes retreat into solitude when they need to focus. If you have a project to work on. So avoid situations (and people) that deplete your willpower unnecessarily. staying on the treadmill only to ‘spoil it all’ on arriving home by stuffing down half the world’s supply of cheese bagels washed off with a keg of beer. Willpower is limited (just like muscle power). then that requires an almost constant effort of willpower.even when you’re sitting still? Tip 3: Understand how exerting willpower saps your energy Exerting willpower lowers your blood glucose levels. climb Mont Blanc. you’ll lose less glucose. But if willpower measurably depletes glucose levels (sugar). because it takes time to renew it. By starting to limit insulin-raising carbohydrates and sugary foods in your diet. hold on! One thing at a time. So many people report going to the gym and. Ah. meaning we’re more likely to feel horrendous ‘sugar dips’. Since glucose is the same fuel that powers your muscles. research found that willpower could be temporarily restored by having a glass of lemonade (4). learn tennis. and desist insulting the neighbour…maybe!” Whoa. surely having a more sugary diet will increase willpower? You wish! Tip 4: Watch your blood sugar levels Yes. So just like with Popeye. you’re unlucky enough to work with someone to whom you are required to be professional and polite even as every fibre of your instinctive being is champing at the bit to scream in their ear to shut the *£@! up (sorry. that reminds me: watch who you mix with. but the problem is that the more sugar we consume generally. you’ll find that when you do exert willpower. Using willpower depletes resources in the body (namely. not merely a mindset. If the researchers are right that using willpower depletes it. Resisting these may deplete your willpower for the project if you leave it to do later on. through force of sweaty will. researchers (3) have concluded that willpower is very similar to physical strength in that: • • • • Willpower is a mind-body response.Tip 1: Be careful how you ‘spend’ your willpower New Year’s is often the time we decide that the next twelve months will be different . How else can you boost your willpower? Tip 5: State your core values 13 . then it makes sense not to attempt too many willpower-based changes all at once.“I’m going to stop smoking. meaning we’ll have less willpower. So healthy eating can make it easier to engage in healthier eating (or anything that requires willpower). say. Tip 2: Limit your exposure to people who drive you nuts If . I’m working through a few things from the past here).
Using willpower saps glucose just as muscular effort does. “Determination is important to me!” can actually boost your willpower. stating aloud (or to yourself if in public) your core values can be a quick and easy selfcontrol booster. unmotivated. Make a promise to yourself that you won’t give up. I’m reminded of the words of author and Nobel prize winner Pearl S Buck: 14 .” Then prepare to use this self-affirmation when willpower starts to deplete. Near the top. and lazy sometimes (just as long as we’re not this way most of the time). we never get to exercise it and it gets flabby.”.When you feel weak. What would you think of such a person? But this is what perfectionists do. Being a perfectionist can actually needlessly leak willpower because all kinds of stuff that don’t need to be controlled through force of will get brought into the mix. Willpower can be strengthened and trained in the ways I’ve outlined here. They now feel that they’ve failed completely because. “Even though I’ve lost 20lbs. the more you exert it. This is because what exercising self-control often means is avoiding our automatic response. and exert that will. because I had that piece of pizza I may as well forget the whole thing and binge out!” Give yourself some leeway. Don’t be frightened to engage in activities that require effort. We can all be slovenly. couldn’t remember the last time he’d had to exert such willpower. Boosting willpower is a combination of understanding that: • • • Willpower depletes like any ‘fuel’. So consciously breaking the impulse to watch a Sesame Street rerun rather than get on with writing your novel by stating aloud (or to yourself). listen to this free hypnosis audio snippet designed to strengthen your resolve: And talking of strengthening exercises… Tip 6: Use it or lose it! If we never exert willpower. But as the months progressed. then step down a step or two in their exhaustion. according to some more research (5). Any way of breaking the instinctive trancelike state of mind can be an effective way of regaining the reins of our behaviour. Schmeichel and Vohs conducted research on two groups who were asked to perform the unpleasant task of holding their arms in ice water for as long as possible. Tip 7: Avoid perfectionism Imagine someone walking up a thousand steps. it’s a total failure!” And. they get tired and pause. And to make it even more likely that you’ll do this. indeed. we stop thinking and start acting on emotionally-driven instinct. So if this research is anything to go by: • • • First evaluate when you are likely to weaken. well. he found it a real struggle at first and. “Healthy living is vital. The researchers surmise that the reason for this might be because when we feel impulsive. which might be to automatically stuff your hand into the cookie jar (my own default setting). One friend of mine started having climbing lessons. The diagnostic term is ‘laziness’. The group that were asked to state positive selfaffirmation statements prior to the willpower test performed significantly better than the control group. they paused and stepped back. “Honesty is important to me!”. Next decide what your core value is in this context and what your affirmation (6) would be: “I value marriage. Not naturally lithe. he reported a strange thing: “It’s like the willpower I’ve developed from the climbing has crossed over to help me in my job!” Use it or lose it. “If it’s not completely perfect. Perfectionism is a fast-track route to feeling less motivated than Popeye during a national spinach shortage. the more it will grow.
1.” Popeye would agree. 5. The researchers who conducted this study called the effect ‘central fatigue’. 2007). study also found that having a glass of lemonade afterwards can restore us to full power. Their study was published in Psychology and Health (Sept 24. as measured by performance and EMG activity. not better about themselves. stating positive statements about the self (such as “I am a lovable person”) made them feel worse. as shown in one study that looked at the effects of mental self-control on physical stamina (Bray et al. it measurably depletes our glucose levels (Gailliot et al. One study has found that exercising self-control is such hard work. 2. that those with low self-esteem were in a better mood when they were allowed to have negative thoughts than when they were asked to focus exclusively on affirmative thoughts. 2009). In this study. This all provides another reason why it might be a good idea to exercise first thing. 15 . 6. It depletes physical power. Your mind must simply know it has got to get down to work.. 3. For those with pre-existing low self-esteem. The mind-body response of exerting willpower literally fatigues us (Tice et al.. trying to control one’s thoughts decreased muscular endurance. 2008). for example. 4.“I don’t wait for moods. 2007). The psychologists also asked the study participants to list negative and positive thoughts about themselves. The Gailliot et al. appears in the journal Psychological Science. Schmeichel and Vohs (2009). paradoxically. Such self-esteem ‘raising’ self-affirmations seem to work for people who already feel good about themselves. The study. conducted by Canadian researchers from the University of Waterloo and the University of New Brunswick.. It seems self-affirmations are not universally effective. They found. You accomplish nothing if you do that.
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