How To Gain Willpower And Self-Discipline

Do you set a goal only to give up on it too soon? If only you had more willpower.

You could change your eating habits and finally get lean. If only you have greater self-control. You could stick to an exercise plan.

I know what it’s like. Trying to achieve goals is not easy.

Walking past that treat you enjoy takes effort. Training for years despite obstacles takes determination.

If you want to gain willpower and self-discipline, this is the article for you!

What Are WillPower And Self-Discipline?

Willpower can be defined as the control required to do something or restrain an impulse at a precise moment. Here’s an example. If you have decided to lose fat and get fit, willpower is the ability to walk past that unhealthy snack. It’s a here-and-now concept. You walked past the snack now by an act of willpower. You will need to exercise willpower again to avoid eating other unhealthy food.  

Of course, we’re not only talking about fat loss. Your goal can be anything. It might be exercise-related but more about gaining muscle. It might not have to do with exercise at all. Maybe it has to do with a business endeavor. Maybe it has to do with college or your career. It can be about any life goals you have. 

With that in mind, let’s look at other qualities of willpower:

  1. The ability to avoid impulses that are unneeded and possibly harmful.
  2. The ability to come to a decision, big or small, and follow through on it until you achieve it.
  3. Willpower is an inner strength that allows you to say no to unneeded and possibly unhealthy habits. This could range from poor eating habits to such unhealthy habits like smoking or excessive drinking. 
  4. Willpower is also the strength that allows you to overcome inner resistance and external obstacles. This means resisting temptation that is counterproductive to your goals. It can also mean peer pressure to give in to an unhealthy habit. 
  5. It is the power to overcome laziness and procrastination.
  6. It is the strength to step away from your comfort zone.

Self-discipline can be defined as your ability to do something repeatedly over time.

For example, this could mean avoiding unhealthy snacks consistently for the next several months. It could mean avoiding them for good. As noted above, it does not relate solely to fat loss. Self-discipline relates to the successful completion and maintenance of any goal you set for yourself. 

Other qualities of self-discipline include:

  1. Self-discipline is the inner strength that allows you to persist with whatever your goal happens to be.
  2. It is the inner strength to face and overcome mental, emotional, and physical difficulties.
  3. Self-discipline is the strength to reject instant pleasure, satisfaction, or comfort. It’s the strength to persevere to gain something better. This is true even regardless of the effort and time required to achieve a goal. 

The Role of Will Power and Self-Discipline 

As noted self-discipline and willpower are what make up inner strength. They allow you to follow through on the decisions you make. You’re taking action and continuing with that action for as long as it takes, even if there are obstacles. 

Therefore, self-discipline and willpower promote perseverance and persistence. They allow you to remain focused on your goals. It’s the strength to resist the things that can derail your efforts in achieving them.

Don’t let there be any excuse. It doesn’t matter what your goals are, or how old you are. If you want to succeed in any aspect of your life, you’ll need to develop your willpower and self-discipline.

The first step is that no matter what negative characteristics you may have, you need to believe you can change. Once you’ve declared that change is possible, you can follow through on the steps necessary to develop these two qualities. 

How to Strengthen Willpower and Improve Self-Discipline?

One of the best ways to strengthen willpower and improve self-discipline is by doing things you would rather avoid doing. If you follow through on this type of task despite inner resistance, you will be a stronger person. It’s like using resistance exercise to build a better physique. The more you lift against resistance, the stronger you will be. Likewise, you will strengthen these skills by overcoming resistance to doing tasks you might not like. 

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of things in life we would rather not do. Yes, it’s easier to choose not to do these things. It’s also weaker. It means you lack the willpower and self-discipline to do unenjoyable tasks that have to be done. Success in life comes about through our willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve it. That doesn’t mean it’s always enjoyable. It does mean you have the drive to do what you need to. That’s one of the keys to success. 

Willpower and Self-Discipline Exercises

Just like working out to build your muscles, you can do exercises to develop and strengthen willpower and self-discipline. It takes time to develop these qualities. Consistent practice will allow you to develop them faster.

Here are a few exercises that can help you overcome resistance to doing things. Practice them as often as you can, and apply the principle to your life every day. 

Exercise # 1

Do you have a choice of riding the elevator or using stairs at work or school? Do you prefer the elevator? Then, as long as you are physically able, start using the stairs for one week. If your floor is too high up, walk up a flight or two, then take the elevator. 

After one week, set a goal of taking the stairs for two weeks. After you have successfully achieved this goal, set a longer goal. Do this until taking the stairs has become a regular habit. 

Exercise # 2

Are there dirty dishes in the sink? Do you usually postpone washing them? Or, do you postpone loading the dishwasher? Don’t wait, take care of it now. By ignoring your desire to be lazy, you are becoming a stronger person. Immediate action is one of the keys to success. No matter how positive you are or how good your plan is, it’s for nothing without action.

Exercise # 3

Do you drink your morning coffee with milk or sugar? Drink it black for one week. You are building inner strength when you can adjust to your circumstances. This often means doing things you do not want to do. Success can be hard, you have to train yourself to do whatever it takes to get there. 

Exercise # 4

Let’s say you work out at night when you come home from work. Instead, you’ve been sitting in front of the TV because you’re a little tired. You feel lazy. Don’t give in to how you feel. Come home and work out first. 

Of course, there’s a nutritional aspect to this as well. How you eat in the hours leading up to your workout can impact how you feel. Stay away from sugary carbs, and choose slower-burning carbs instead. This can provide the needed cellular energy to train.

Of course, you can always use a pre-workout. However, don’t  take it too late in the day. Otherwise it might interfere with your sleep quality. 

The Importance of Constant Training

The exercises shown above are not difficult. For the most part, each task is simple. Practicing each one will develop inner strength. Remember, it’s not about making things difficult, it’s about developing the ability to do whatever it takes to achieve a goal. 

By practicing exercises like the examples above, you can strengthen willpower and self-discipline. You’re developing the ability to use them. 

This is how you break bad habits and develop good ones. It’s how you can take control of your life. Also, it’s why your goals become more than dreams. Remember, you achieve your goals by taking action.

Start small, and gradually take bigger steps. Tackle small challenges and take progressively bigger ones as your willpower and self-discipline get stronger. 

Common Mistakes & Tips

Here are some common mistakes that happen when you try to strengthen willpower and self-discipline:

  1. Expecting Too Much Of Yourself Too Soon – If you’re beginning to work on your willpower, don’t try to tackle a big temptation. Focus on something easy. Then move on to something a little harder. 
  2. Setting Unrealistic Expectations – You might think you can make changes in your life quickly. This may deceive you into thinking it won’t take much time or effort. Once you realize it might be harder than you thought, you might be tempted to give up. 

Therefore, think about the time and effort involved, and set realistic goals. 

  1. Not Thinking Long Term – As above, you might not be looking at the big picture. Developing willpower and self-discipline, and using them, should be a life-long habit. Do not deceive yourself into thinking it’ll just take a couple of months, and that’s it. Remember, success is long-term. 
  2. Waiting For The Right Conditions – Many people delay taking action because they think “it’s not the right time”. Or, they think “I’m too busy right now”. There’s never a perfect time. Therefore, the time is now. Start today.  

Here are some tips to help you develop willpower and self-discipline:

  1. Get Enough Sleep – Lack of sleep can affect you emotionally. It can cause you to be easily distracted. This means you will be more likely to give in to temptations. 
  2. Meditate – This helps you maintain a stress-free mental attitude that supports your efforts to develop these mental qualities. 
  3. Exercise – Set physique goals for yourself. In the gym, work on developing a mental connection with the muscles you are training. This type of focus carries over to self-discipline and willpower because you’re training for a goal. You’re also developing mental power to help your workouts be more productive.
  4. Limit Sugary Carbs – Spikes and dips related to sugar intake affect cognitive function. At the start of the day, tackle the things that challenge your willpower and self-discipline first. Then, move down the list to smaller, easily achievable things. 
  5. Surround yourself with people that have the same mindset as you. Nothing is worse than trying to mentally succeed when you’re surrounded by negative people. Don’t expose yourself to their negativity. Expose yourself to a positive environment. 
  6. Make developing willpower and self-discipline a habit. 
  7. A trick you can use to help you strengthen willpower and self-discipline is distraction. 

In one study, children were tempted with a marshmallow treat. The ones who were able to resist eating the marshmallow immediately used different strategies to strengthen their willpower. Distraction was one of the more effective strategies. 

Here’s how they did it. Some children simply closed their eyes. Others turned away and focused their attention on something else. The ones who couldn’t stop looking at the treat, however, were likely to give in to it. (1)

The bottom line is that when facing any temptation, look for some type of distraction. This might be to think about something else or get involved in a task that takes your mind off of it. This can help you stay focused on the goal of developing willpower and self-discipline. 

Summary

Gaining willpower and self-discipline is within reach for anyone. There is no doubt you want to achieve your goals, whatever they may be. The strength and power to do that are in your hands. This guide has given you exercises and tips that you can use to be successful. Use it to develop willpower and strengthen self-discipline. Don’t wait, get started on the path that will lead you to success!

References:

  1. Mischel, W., Ebbesen, E. B., & Zeiss, A. R. (1972). Cognitive and attentional mechanisms in delay of gratification. Journal of personality and social psychology, 21(2), 204–218. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0032198
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