Just do it and the myth of "where there is a will there is a way"

Willpower. Where there is a will there is a way.

Exert your will and accomplish anything.

Then why is it so difficult to say no to that cookie? Or that pint of ice cream at the end of the day.

How come sometimes you can summon up the willpower needed and then other times not so much?

Well, according to science, it's not that simple. Or is it? A few key points that have been discovered about willpower:

  • There is a limited supply of it and it refills each day. You have to decide what is most important to you and save your willpower for that.
  • The brain requires one-fifth of your  calories. This means you need to make sure you are properly fueling your brain with good food every single day to maintain full strength willpower.
  • You start the day with the most willpower; do the toughest things first thing!

What kinds of things use up your precious willpower? Making new habits, avoiding distractions, suppressing feelings and impulses, doing things that you don't want to, choosing long term over short term.

Most people have heard of the marshmallow studies from the 1960s and 1970s. Walter Mischel studied over 500 children by giving them one of two options. Take a marshmallow now or wait 15 minutes and get TWO!

Just about 30% of kids were able to say no. These children were later followed up on as they grew up and Mischel found that those who were able to resist were doing leaps and bounds better than those who gave in. Needless to say it's important to be able to delay gratification. This means we need to be very vigilant about where we spend our willpower dollars.

Another researcher studied the effect of tasks on willpower. College students were asked to memorize either a 2 digit or 7 digit number. After they were asked to recite it, they were given the option of a fruit snack or chocolate cake. The students who had to remember the 7 digit number were twice as likely to choose the cake! The FIVE extra numbers had a significant impact on the willpower.

What can you do to best use your willpower for things that will ave the longest lasting happiness and success gainz?

Manage it. Do high priority things when you have the most willpower. Make sure you feed the body the right foods in the right quantities at the right times. If you can sit down and figure out the most important things you have to do, you should schedule them around the times you have the most willpower.

Keller, Gary, and Jay Papasan. The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth behind Extraordinary Results. Austin, TX: Bard, 2012.