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This mysterious thing called willpower

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What could you do if you had more willpower. Even better, what could you not do?

You could not have dessert, not have the large fries, not spend endless hours on Facebook, not jam out on your gym membership, not call that old boyfriend back.

The results of American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey show that participants regularly cite lack of willpower as the No. 1 most significant barrier to change. I’m assuming that the data in Canada would be similar.

But wait — good new is coming!

Research also shows that willpower — the ability to resist short-term temptations in favour of a larger goal — is something that can be strengthened. In the same way we get better at anything, practise, determination and commitment play large roles.

To start off, think of your goal in as much detail as possible. See it and feel it. The more real you can make it, the better.

Now think about the obstacles that are bound to get in the way.

OK, now it’s time to come up with a Plan B for how you will keep on track. Remember we are working on forgoing short term satisfaction for long-term gains.

Researchers found that the test group which had thought through the scenarios and how to handle them was much more likely to stick to goals than the group of people who didn’t think through a Plan B.

Re-framing your decision-making questions is another great way to strengthen your willpower.
Train you brain to re-frame the question to something with a more positive reward choice.

For example: "Do I want this piece of chocolate cake, or do I want to be one step closer to having my jeans fit."

I don’t know about you, but I want my jeans to fit. Even if we only gain five pounds a year, multiply that by five years and we are on our way to destructive behaviours and habits.

So if you agree having stronger willpower would be a useful tool to pull out of your tool belt as needed, try these few techniques and enjoy getting closer to your goals every day.

Stephanie Staples is the host of Your Life, Unlimited on CJOB (Sundays at 9 am) and is a St. Vital based motivational speaker and author. You can find more resources for life enrichment at www.YourLifeUnlimited.ca

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