Willpower fails 50% of the time. Here’s why.

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How willpower fails us

You know that feeling when there's something you know you should do, but you just really don't want to do it?

You should say no to that second piece of cake. Or you should say yes for going for a run first thing in the morning. Or you should do that piece of work that you've been putting off all week. But you just don't want to.

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A lot of the time when we find ourselves in this situation, we rely on something called willpower to make ourselves do the thing that we didn't want to do.

Here's the thing about willpower though that not a lot of people know.

It actually fails us five times out of 10.

Half the time that we rely on willpower to get us to do things along in line with our best intentions, it fails, and we act in line with our worst intentions.

There has to be a better way right? And why does willpower fail us so often anyway?

Limited mental energy

Well, the answer is actually pretty simple. You have a limited supply of mental energy on any given day. And using willpower takes up a lot of mental energy. You just absolutely do not have enough willpower to make you do all the things you don't want to do all day, every day.

Plan ahead

So here's a tip to help you stick to your best intentions: plan ahead.

Think ahead to situations that you know will be difficult or make a to do list to remind you of what you intended to do today. If you know you're going to be at a party where there's going to be lots of cake and people are going to be trying to foist cake on you, plan ahead and tell yourself: "I will have just one piece of cake."

Sticking to a plan takes a lot less mental energy than spontaneously doing the right thing.

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Now that doesn't always succeed perfectly, but it makes us much more likely to stick to our best intentions. Because sticking to a plan takes a lot less mental energy than spontaneously doing the right thing.

This is why every day before I finish work for the day, I make a to do list for what I want to do the following morning. I know that my willpower and my energy are very low in the mornings and if I haven't made a plan ahead of time, I am going to procrastinate the entire morning away and not do anything that I should be doing. But if I have a plan, it's as simple as just having a list of things I wanted to do. I'll stick to it (almost) every time.

Do you have any favourite tricks for planning ahead and helping you stick to your best intentions? If so, let me know in the comments!

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