How To Build Willpower In 10 Easy Steps

By:    Published: April 22, 2012

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Willpower is a tricky thing. Some people have it in spades, while others have to work to build it up. But one thing is true for everyone – when you put your mind to it and commit, we humans can find the willpower for almost anything. Here are 10 steps on how to build willpower to help you achieve your goals and live a healthy lifestyle.

Be Specific

This goal could be anything from losing weight to quitting smoking. But the goal must be specific. Instead of simply saying "I want to lose weight" a better goal would be "I want to lose 20 pounds before I go on vacation".

Be Sure The Goal Is Reasonable

Using our weight loss example, a goal of losing 20 pounds is perfectly reasonable if a person has enough time. But saying "I want to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks" is not reasonable at all. It's possible to do it, but it isn't healthy and what is required is nearly impossible for most people to stick to for even two weeks. If you have a difficult goal you want to reach, you can make it easier and more reasonable to attain by breaking it into smaller goals, such as "I want to lose four pounds each week." Over five weeks this will attain the goal, but it's much less intimidating.

Focus On The Reasons For Reaching A Goal

The reasons you have for setting a goal are yours alone. Someone who might want to lose weight before her vacation might have a list of reasons like:

  • I want to look good in my bikini on the beach
  • I want to feel more attractive
  • I want to be healthier
  • I want to be proud of myself
  • I want to inspire my friends and family

Focus on these reasons and remind yourself why you’re working so hard to reach your fitness goals. This is a great technique to help you build the willpower to exercise and diet.

Make A List And Read It Every Morning

Take these same reasons and write them down in a list. Decorate the list. Make it as interesting as possible. Then read it…frequently. Read it every morning. Keep copies of it at the office, or in the car, or in a purse or backpack. The point is to reinforce these reasons and the overall goal frequently, which will encourage you to reach your goal when the going gets tough.

Reflect Upon The Consequences For Not Meeting Goals

What will happen if you don’t meet your goals? Using our example above, they might be something like:

  • I won't be able to wear my new bikini
  • I will feel bad about myself on vacation
  • I will be disappointed with myself
  • I won't be as healthy as I could be

Reflect upon these goals, but don't dwell on them because this will end up giving you the feeling like you can't succeed and cause you to give up.

Prioritize

Most of us live very busy lives. So prioritizing your goals is a must. When planning out your day, be sure to make time for the goal you’ve set for yourself. So if someone wants to lose weight, they might make time in their schedule to exercise after lunch or they might wake up earlier in the morning to eat a healthy breakfast to prevent empty calorie snacking throughout the day.

Solve Problems That Interfere With Reaching Goals

This might be something like grocery shopping for healthy food and packing a lunch if you’re prone to grabbing fast food for lunch. You could try going to bed an hour earlier so that you can wake up earlier and feel rested. The point is not to let challenges or excuses keep you from reaching your goals.

Beware Of Excuses

Excuses are the Achilles heel of most humans. We humans can come up with a whole host of excuses with little effort when presented with a task that we find less than pleasant. Whatever is required to reach a goal needs to go in the category of "no choice." So for example if a person is trying to lose weight, the excuse that they just don't have time today to walk after lunch can spell self destruction. Instead, they need to say "I have no choice, I have to walk after lunch or I won't reach my goal."

Habit Patterns

Human beings are creatures of habit, and usually the habits that a person develops are based upon doing what is easiest. But every single time that a person does something matters because over time this will create a habit pattern. So every time that a person takes a walk after lunch reinforces the habit of doing so making it easier to do it next time. Creating positive habit patterns is crucial for reaching goals.

Give Yourself A Pat On The Back

Positive reinforcement is critical for reaching goals and building willpower. Sometimes giving yourself a pat on the back comes when a person least expects it, such as when they go to get dressed one day and find that their pants are getting loose. Or it could involve looking in the mirror and saying out loud "I'm working hard, looking good and I'm proud of myself." However it's done, positive reinforcement is important to reaching goals and building willpower.

While it may not be easy, increasing willpower and reaching goals is worth the effort and most people have something that they want to accomplish. So give these steps a try and see what happens.

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