3 Easy Ways to Increase Your Willpower

                                              By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC


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Have you ever asked yourself, “Why did I do that? Why don’t I have more control over myself?” It seems to happen when we do something to give ourselves short-term pleasure at the expense of long-term pain.


Overeating, spending money that should never been spent, staying up too late, procrastinating, and being lazy are all good examples of the types of behaviors that cause us to wish we had more willpower.


Try these tips to give you more self-control over your behavior:


1. Plan ahead for your periods of low self-control. Be smart. If you know you tend to overeat at night, perhaps you could have several healthy snacks available when you those inevitable munchies come along. Some find that having a larger breakfast will make the evening hours easier.

  • Look at your past behavior and expect that you're going to act the same way in the future.
  • Figure out a way to prevent the situation from occurring in the first place or put some strategies in place to successfully navigate the situation. Maybe you aren’t eating enough during the day or you are skipping lunch. By the time you get home, your body is in survival mode and you eat everything in sight. Planning your meals and snacks in advance will help you avoid this particular situation.
  • Remember successful individuals are good about not repeating their mistakes, they strive to make new ones (I threw that last part in to see if you were paying attention and you were! Great job!).

2. The more you use your willpower, the more willpower you will have to use. Think of willpower as a muscle. By pushing yourself to use your willpower on a regular basis, your willpower muscle will get stronger.

  • Every day do the tasks you don’t want to do first. These can be simple things like cleaning the house, washing the dishes, or making those unpleasant but necessary phone calls. Forming a new habit of doing unpleasant jobs first is helpful because it gets easier and you will find out that the real issue is dreading the task rather than actually doing it. If you are resistant to starting, set a time for 10 minutes. Most of us can do anything for 10 minutes. Getting started tends to be the issue for most people. Once you start, you will probably want to keep going. Try to take a break every 90 minutes regardless of the task.
  • Congratulate yourself. Every time you are successful in using your will power, be happy and grateful that you have so much self-control. Perhaps a small reward is in order from time to time.
  • You’re probably good at being hard on yourself when your will power falters. Be just as diligent at making yourself feel good when successful.

 For example, working on your taxes early or pushing yourself to clean the garage will make your will power muscles stronger. A bonus is that both of these tasks have rewarding, tangible results.

 3. Eat healthy. Studies have shown low blood sugar can dramatically decrease willpower. Your brain simply needs a certain amount of glucose available for maximum self-control.

  •  Find out if you're eating in a way that promotes low blood sugar.
  •  Exercise can increase insulin sensitivity, which will help to maintain blood glucose levels. Not only is exercise good for your health, but it's also great for your willpower too.
  • Cut back on simple sugars and processed carbohydrates. They can also wreak havoc on your blood sugar.
  • The next time your willpower is faltering, consider having a snack that contains a fat, protein and a carb. This might be all you need to get back on track.

Being successful long-term requires self-reflection and planning. The way you’ve behaved in the past is a great predictor of the future. Unless you consciously change something, you will probably get the same result.  


Always remember that willpower is a short-term resource used to plow through any challenge you might be facing. It is not a long-term solution. For the long-term, it’s helpful to establish new habits that support what you desire.


Everyone wants more willpower. By following these three tips, your willpower is sure to increase. Start improving your willpower today and you’ll enjoy the benefits from now on.