Willpower. Willpower is a finite resource. We don’t have separate amounts of willpower for separate situations. If we spend all our effort resisting sweets, we may find we find fall into areas of other temptations—like a shopping spree.
A Florida State University professor had students fast, then put them in a room with warm chocolate chip cookies and raw radishes. Some students were told they could eat the cookies. Other students were told they could eat the radishes. The students told they could eat radishes had a harder time resisting the cookies. They’d pick up the cookies, and whiff the warm cookie aroma, then bite into their radish. It reminds me of the marshmallow study with kids (which I’m not a fan of. I’m glad this study was done with adults.)
After being in the room eating cookies or radishes, the students were assigned puzzles. They didn’t know the puzzles were unsolvable. The radish eaters endured half as long as the cookie eaters. Away from the cookie-radish group, was a room of hungry students who weren’t given any food. These students also did better on the puzzles than the radish eaters. Conclusion: The struggle to resist the cookies lowered willpower reserves.
When you set yourself up for success, you’re strengthening your willpower instead of constantly challenging it. It’s like a muscle. It gets stronger over time. The key to remember is, if you lessen the number of temptations, you’re setting yourself up for success. Eventually, it turns into long term success. This is true in any area of life: financial, physical, spiritual, social, emotional, mental.
Willpower isn’t about “willing it”, it’s about allowing the atmosphere to support you in your success. If spend money has the upper hand over your will power right now, put yourself in an atmosphere of an abundance of freebies. The park, the beach, walks around town. Or spend your time helping, volunteering away from the opportunity to spend money. Garden. If it’s internet shopping, don’t turn on the internet when you’re on your computer. Leave your credit card home. wrap your credit card in foil, then place it in a bowl of water – then into the freezer. How serious are you about setting the atmosphere for success? Willpower. You can do this! (The cat looks a bit nervous in the photo above, but some of the dogs have their willpower in place. They want the treat. They want the job!)