What we’ve been told about willpower is wrong

Do you struggle with motivation and staying self-disciplined? Do you feel like you lack motivation and the willpower to make good choices around food, exercise, sleep and stress? Do you wish you had endless willpower and motivation to help you become the person you truly want to be?

Do you currently believe that you have no willpower or self-control and that if you had more of these things you would be the person you truly want to be. Well your not wrong and while willpower will help you achieve the sustainable change you desire, it is only the tip of the iceberg.

Precision Nutrition (The Iceberg of Success)

Are you wasting your time with willpower
Willpower isn’t a waste of time in fact it’s an important part to sustainable change, however, how you perceieve willpower may be holding you back. When you hear the word willpower what comes to mind? Determination, drive, restraint, self-discipline, self-control? While these maybe great ways to describe willpower they are the by-products of a growth mindset > a supportive environemnt > good habits > enough knowledge.


The willpower battery
It is often thought that willpower is a finite resource that can run out, if you’ve had a big day at work or school and your tired your willpower is drained and that’s why you make bad choices, like eating cake for dinner (if that’s even a bad choice…). There is some older research that supports this idea (Baumeister, 1998), however, newer research suggests otherwise. More recent research agrees that if you BELIEVE your willpower is limited and can run out than it will, this is only true because you BELIEVE that’s how willpower works (Job, V., Dweck, C. S., & Walton, G. M.,2010). How you think about willpower can either drain it or power it up!


How to SUPERCHARGE your willpower
1. Reframe your definition of willpower – What’s your definition of willpower? How does it affect the actions you take? How can you put a positive spin on demonstarting willpower?
2. Think of different ways to promote a different view point of willpower and motivation e.g. when I complete my tougher daily tasks first, I feel accomplished and productive.
3. Use that view point in different contexts e.g. nutrition, training and sport.
4. Next time your willpower is feeling low think about how you can give it a boost i.e. what successes have I already had? How can I replicate them? Celebrate when you successfully demonstrate willpower!


Willpower is just another tool you can use to empower yourself to make positive changes, especially when you couple it with self compassion, positive self talk and social support (find a coach who can help you).