Willpower will be one of your most trusted companions and counted on to help you during your life optimization journey. To be successful it is important that you train and nurture your willpower. Willpower is the muscle that allows you to look beyond short term pleasures that will ultimately hurt your life optimization journey.

It’s very easy to accept immediate gratification and enjoy a short lived moment of pleasure that will ultimately prove to be a setback. Then you’ll get the inevitable guilt that comes along with doing something you know is not in your best interest. Guilt leads to negativity which forces some to simply give up on life optimization.

Developing the ability to focus on your long term goals and not give in to impulses is what willpower is all about!

“Your willpower is like a muscle. Many people think you're either born with willpower or you’re not, but that’s not true. It’s actually like a muscle you can strengthen over time.”

Willpower Fatigue?

Your willpower like any muscle can become strained and tired. Depending upon the situation this can actually happen pretty quickly. But, the good news is; also like any other muscle it can be trained, strengthened and made stronger!

When we exercise our willpower, we are using our brains to contemplate decisions trying to make the right choice. This all draws on the body’s energy source. Our choices determine what happens in our lives. So, trying to make the right choice consumes a lot of energy, especially when choosing between immediate gratification and what’s best for long term success.

Your willpower is the force that you use when you are trying to make these decisions. If the choice is a difficult one you can feel extremely tired, almost to the point of exhaustion afterwards.

Many times even after we've made the choice we still don’t know if it was the right decision. We often second guess ourselves and wrestle with the possible ramifications and wonder if we did the right thing.

Roy Baumeister is an American psychology professor who authored a book along with John Tierney. Their book is called Willpower: Rediscovering Our Greatest Strength, and it covers 30 years of research on the topic of willpower.

In one research study, they discovered amazing results when participants had to exert a lot of willpower to not perform a task, such as not eating a chocolate chip cookie. They were less successful at doing another task immediately afterwards. This really goes to show that your willpower can become drained and tired extremely quickly, depending on the choices.

Willpower Cross Training!

As I mentioned earlier your willpower is a muscle so just like any other muscle it can be trained. We can work on increasing the strength of this muscle daily by doing exercises and by just taking more time to make decisions.
Your willpower can become tired quite quickly. Follow these 7 tips to learn how to develop your willpower without suffering from burnout.

1. Focus on one goal at a time – even though we all have multiple goals, we should only work on one at a time. Our major goal should be our life why statement, it will take accomplishing a series of smaller goals to reach our main goal.

Focusing on this stepping stone approach helps to make our willpower stronger with each goal we complete. The further down the path we get the easier it becomes to stick to our guns and less willpower is needed.

2. Reduce the stress in our life – it will be much easier to reach our goals and stay on track when we feel less stressed out. We need to identify our stressors and take action to greatly reduce them. There are many ways to reduce stress such as : a massage, a relaxing walk, yoga, meditation, a good workout and reading a good book just to name a few.

Stress creates fatigue, which as we've seen from Roy Baumeister’s study is an enemy of willpower. We'll need all of our available energy to summon the strength necessary to make sound decisions. Deal with stress now and don't let it impair your willpower!

3. Set clear goals – if we set goals that are ambiguous or too large it will be more difficult to successfully achieve them. Instead break down a larger goal into smaller chunks and then define each chunk clearly.

Clarity allows our mind to function more efficiently as it does not have to continually sort through clutter trying to determine priority and what to do next. The clearer our mind; the more focused we are and the more energy we can devote to doing the things most important to reaching our goals.

4. Don't procrastinate – it’s easy to get behind and lose track of what we should be doing to optimize our lives. Avoiding tasks that are undesirable, but necessary for success, will cloud our mind with doubt, and weaken our willpower. Instead we have to remember why we want to live our dream life, and how accomplishing these tasks will help get us there.

We must focus on our goals and picture our ultimate success; this will give us the motivation to tackle those unpleasant tasks with gusto! We will strengthen our willpower to get things done which will keep us moving forward, no matter what.

5. Use a to-do list – just the act of writing down what we have to accomplish each day will help us stay focused and on track. When you commit a task to writing you are more likely to call on your willpower to get it finished.

This is because you visually realize that the task is there, and you crave the feeling of accomplishment provided by checking it off of the list. This is when you hear the little voice of your willpower reminding you to finish it up! A sense of accomplishment will push you to get more done.

6. Create a sense of urgency – by giving yourself a time table to get things done; you are setting expectations for yourself. Self set expectations will push you harder to meet the timelines you have established. Having a deadline will help kick your motivation into overdrive to meet it. After all, you don't want to let yourself down!

This is also a great way to create new success habits. For example if you get up at 6am to exercise every day within 3 weeks this will become second nature. Each morning your willpower will have to work a little bit less to get you up and going. Pretty soon you’ll automatically get up ready to exercise without questioning your actions, and your willpower can sleep in!

7. Get the proper amount of sleep – your willpower is at its strongest first thing in the morning after a restful night of sleep. This allows you to plan your day to get the toughest things done first. You can then move on to the more basic tasks and become much more effective for the rest of the day.

Seven hours is widely believed to be the optimal amount of sleep for adults. This obviously will not be possible every night, but make sure less than seven hours of sleep is the exception and not the rule. Like your other mussels your willpower needs rest too!

Keep your willpower strong and when it’s combined with motivation; it “will power” you forward in your life optimization journey. Start incorporating these7 habits into your daily life and give your willpower a workout which will allow you to flex its muscles!

Author's Bio: 

Barry Grimes is a certified life optimization coach and is the author behind The Personalized Life Blog, the Optimize Your Life Course, Life Optimization after 50, Optimal Life Resources and Personalization Sensation. He has spent over 30 years in the corporate and self-employment worlds helping others to improve their lives. He offers a free Life Optimization course and can be contacted through his blog http://www.thepersonalizationlife.com/ or by email: barry@thepersonalizationlife.com.