Willpower is something we all value highly. It’s something we all want more of, but aren’t quite sure how to get it.
When we think of willpower, we imagine it as some force that enables us to overcome our desires. In other words, we see it as part of a battle, a contest with willpower on one side, and our wants on the other. But some psychologists say this isn’t the way to look at willpower. The reason we need willpower for something, they say, is really because we lack motivation for doing something. The less motivation we have, the more willpower we need. So, instead of focusing on willpower, we should rather be focusing on our motivation. Here are a few tips from psychologists on how to do that.
1. Expect to win.
Often, our attitude and actions are driven by our expectations. If we expect to fail, or see failure as an all too possible outcome, this lessens our motivation for a task. You have to really see yourself as completing the task you set out to do, to see yourself as accomplishing it.
2. Think about how the thing you want to do will help you.
For example, if you are having trouble getting yourself into the gym for a workout, remind yourself of all the reasons why it is good to go – looking and feeling better, sleeping better, being more alert, improving your health. Doing this will also help increase your motivation.
3. Figure out what obstacles you will face.
Doing something new or different will always involve obstacles, the most apparent of which are the behaviors we already have that we want to change. So, for example, you want to get into the gym, but when you get home from work you are usually too tired, or something else usually comes up.
4. Come up with a strategy for overcoming the obstacle.
If you want to go to the gym after work, but find that once you get home, it just becomes too much trouble to get ready and go, you can handle this problem by taking your gym clothes with you to work, and then going to the gym directly from work.
5. Picture in your mind going through the steps to achieve your goal.
Start at the beginning in your mind’s eye – imagine yourself wanting to change your behavior, then running into the obstacles, and then taking the actions necessary to overcome the obstacles, and then achieving your goal. This type of imagining has also been shown to increase motivation.
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