Willpower Is Finite – So, Now What?
We’re all preparing to knuckle down for the year, go back to work, get kids back to school….and to start shouldering responsibility again. I’ve had LOTS of conversations about the return-to-work thing this week and it brings up the challenges of staying on track and maintaining enough willpower. But actually, willpower is finite so you need a different approach to keep up the healthy habits.
Here’s how life typically plays out as you return to work:
1. The year starts off positively – you feel powerful, exciting, relaxed, strong! You are energized and invincible!
2. Here comes back-to-work commitment and responsibility. Yay! You feel great! Bring it on!
3. Oh. You’re a tad over-committed now. Panic. Scramble. Juggle. You can manage, right?
4. Sigh. Here’s that too busy/don’t have enough time/too exhausted mindset. There go my good intentions!
5. Give me the wine. Where is my chocolate? I need coffee! I need something sweet. Exercise – hah!
6. I am totally off track. I just need more willpower. I need to be stronger and just say no!
Does this sound familiar?
This is prompting me to ask myself if being able to resist temptation (aka something you desire) is a really a good thing. How many people actually like resisting, missing out, restricting or cutting back?
Not many that I know – so let’s stop pinning a medal on it!
Unfortunately, Willpower is Finite.
Willpower is just like muscle that gets tired from too much heavy lifting. Too much constant responsibility and stress suck your willpower and decision making juice, so you quickly get into decision fatigue (sometimes even before lunchtime).
That leaves you bereft, a brain-dead zombie, going through the motions to simply get through the day. And THAT’s when the old, bad habits creep back in.
Some important questions:
1. How can you keep some of that holiday magic and stay calm, focused, energized?
2. How will you avoid becoming over-committed to others, and under-committed to yourself?
3. How can you stay on track with your healthy habits (nutrition, mindset, being organised)?
There are LOTS of tools we use in coaching to help you break out of the cycle of overwhelm, over-commitment and decision fatigue. But here’s one really simple one you can use right now, yourself, anytime, even in secret.
Enter, The Mantra
I know, I know. You see the word “Mantra'” and your inner Captain Skeptic says “Not Another One Of Those Woo Woo Things”…..
Wait. Hear me out.
This simple tool taps into your authentic self and values. It can help keep your magic, motivation and calmness alive even when you’re stressed and busy, so you can make healthier choices in the moment.
It’s portable, empowering and it has worked for 100% of my clients who have tried it. Here’s how it works:
* Firstly, create your mantra (mine is “Do what inspires me, and be with inspiring people”).
* When you’re tempted by something unhealthy, question your choice in relation to your mantra.
For example, it’s 3 pm and I am looking for a salty, fatty snack, or coffee and cake after a hectic day. I stop and ask myself – “Will I feel inspired if I have this?”
Inspiration is more important to me than a crunchy, salty, fatty snack, even when I’m stressed or emotional.
Questioning your motivation like this pulls you out of my automatic stress response, into the bigger picture of what you really want (which could be a break from work, to be outside, to rest, to get some nutritious food). It’s kind of a simple form of cognitive behaviour therapy.
What is your mantra for 2017 – what do you really want?
Work it out, and give my two-step process a go. Then, tell us about your experience in the comments below!
Chief Inspiration Coach
I'm a quirky scientist and a Health and Wellness Coach who helps 35+ women to understand and eat right for their body type.