If willpower is a muscle, how to you train it?
January 12, 2014 11:32 AM Subscribe
I suffer from a deficit of willpower. I set goals, make promises, assure myself that I will follow them... and then end up feeling terrible when I impulsively break them. I'd appreciate advice and tactics from people who have suffered from and overcome a similar lack of control on how to train this 'willpower muscle.'
If were to personify my willpower, I would split it into two beings. First, I have have an 'inner child' that demands immediate gratification and is constantly looking for the easy way out of things. ("Order pizza, it would be yummy and cooking would take too long! Put off your work that you promised you would do, it seems difficult and you should relax today instead! There's always tomorrow!", he might say)
On the other side is 'old man reason', who tries to speak sense to me and make me think of the long-term consequences of actions. ("You just had Chinese, why would you have pizza today? It's bad for you! Also, don't forget that tomorrow is not a given. You've been putting off this work for days already and it's making you anxious. Even though it might be tough, why not get it done now so you feel better later?", the old man might reply to the child)
The 'inner child' is, on a troubling number of occasions, the victor of this battle. When he wins, I usually am quite relieved and happy until I have finished doing whatever the 'inner child' was asking for. Afterwards, I know I made the wrong choice and feel a great sense of guilt, disappointment and sometimes anxiety. I go for the short-term fix and take the easy way out far too often in many aspects of my life. Even though I know it will do no good and may even create problems later on, it feels so good in the moment that I have a hard time acting with my best interests in mind.
I'd like to hear strategies and advice from people who have subdued their own inner child (or whatever you want to call it) and increased their willpower as a result. I want to train my 'old man reason' to be buff enough to overpower the child who only thinks of the present. I am looking for techniques and ways to improve your willpower and make life choices that you know will benefit you in the long run, as opposed to consistently giving in to my baser instincts and opting for short-term gratification.