Relying on willpower is risky.
A lot of research has been done on willpower recently. Kelly McGonigal’s book, The Willpower Instinct, is a good overview.
Willpower (as of now) seems to be like a muscle. It can be strong and useful at times. But it can also fatigue and fail.
Studies show that if you’re forced to use a bunch of willpower, you’ll have less willpower available directly afterward.
Imagine you’re trying to eat healthy. You’re really hungry. I put piece of pizza in front of you and say, “Don’t eat this.”
You do as I say. You use willpower and resist for ten minutes. And then I came in the room and put a banana next to the pizza and say, “You can pick one of these to eat.”
You’ll probably pick the pizza (even though you’re trying to eat healthy) because your willpower is lower
Studies show drinking a sugary drink boosts willpower. Sugar (glycogen) is your brain’s preferential fuel source.
When your brain is low on fuel, it crawls into conservation mode. You have less energy available for strong willpower plays.
Willpower is a trendy thing now, so you’re bound to find more information on teh Gewgooles.
Some object to these willpower studies, saying perception is an important wildcard.
If you think you’re tired and fatigued, you will be tired and fatigued…even if you aren’t. Just like with muscular effort, your brain usually calls it quits before your body does.
I agree. No one uses willpower to resist eating maggots. In a sense, willpower is nothing but perception.
If motivation’s roots are WANT TO, then, well, “wants” are a very personal-subjective thing. And if willpower has to pick up where WANT TO leaves off, then go ahead and connect the dots…
So perception is HUGE, but changing perception isn’t an easy thing to do consciously. (Remember the epiphany?)
I hope you’re as confused as I am writing this. We came into the topic of willpower as if it was the Obi-Wan Kenobi to our lacklusterly motivated Pricess Leia.
HELP ME WILLPOWER, YOU’RE MY ONLY HOPE.
And in some sense, it can be.
you COULD use everything I just told you about willpower and lean on it. Knowing that willpower is like a muscle (and that we often have more of it than we think we do), you can will will and will some more to do the thing.
Prove to yourself that HAVE TO is more WANT TO. Create feed forward loop. Yes!
But this isn’t a long term (or reliable) answer, which is good news because you don’t have to worry about intravenously injecting orange juice into your body.
Willpower is powerful, yes.
But willpower is unreliable.