5 activities that will increase your willpower in a short time

Will power is the ability to delay gratification, resist temptation for long-term rewards, act on a cognitive system and consciously regulate impulses and emotions.

It is a limited resource that requires time to be “filled in”. It works like a water bottle, every time we use our self-control it is like taking a drink from the bottle. Inevitably, it runs out.

It is as if we get tired of doing what we should and simply can’t do it anymore.

5 activities that will increase your willpower in a short time

As expected, this has repercussions in our lives.

In a study conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2011, a significant percentage of participants recorded that they saw a lack of willpower as the greatest impediment to achieving their goals.

It has also been shown that IQ, socioeconomic or emotional status, and individual physical abilities are more important to success.

So it is clear. Will power is a vital requirement for anyone who wants to achieve their goals (from the young to the old).

Does that mean that those of us who do not have that capacity are doomed?

Of course not! Various researches suggest that will power works like a muscle that, although after much use suffers fatigue, can also be exercised and developed.

How does willpower work?

Day by day we make decisions that force us to resist our impulses and consume our will power. From getting up early to go to work, to eating a salad instead of a hamburger, to not yelling at a colleague who is irritating us.

Sometimes a single decision can drain us of all our self-control, leaving us helpless in the face of countless negative opportunities that we can’t avoid.

Therefore, exercising our will power does not mean exposing ourselves to crucial situations. Turning off your alarm clock to learn how to wake up early, going to a hamburger restaurant to resist the temptation of fast food or generating an argument with your co-workers to work on your temperance are actions that would only consume your will power without providing you with any benefit.

It would be like going to the gym for the first time and pretending to use the biggest weights you can find in your routine. You wouldn’t accomplish much.

Therefore, it is convenient to start with smaller issues. As an experiment with smokers showed, those who practiced their willpower with “simple” routines were able to quit much more easily than those who concentrated only on quitting.

This means that the continued practice of self-control through small acts of impulse suppression or cognitive regulation strengthens these capacities in all areas of our lives.

As we have mentioned on other occasions, the implementation of these types of strategies that help us improve requires that we live consciously, not automatically.

This means that it is not something magical that will take place in your life just because you are reading this article, nor will your subconscious be in charge of applying it.

If you really want to achieve something (in this case increase your willpower), you have to decide, analyze your habits and actions and think about the best way to progress. In short: do it in truth.

The 5 activities I present to you below will not make you start loving what you now dislike, but will lead you to a situation where you will feel uncomfortable. And with enough practice, you will learn to be comfortable with that feeling; that is, comfortably uncomfortable. So when you are faced with a demanding task or a difficult decision, you can choose the best without wasting your resources of will power.

1 – Cold water shower

Getting up every morning to take a cold shower is not easy. Our body reacts as if we were facing the worst situation: we suffer spasms, we breathe faster, our blood pressure increases and our heart beats faster.

I’ve been taking these kinds of showers every day for at least a year and I can tell you that the unpleasant feeling when the cold water touches your skin is still there. The mind lists in a matter of seconds all the imaginable reasons to raise the temperature and return to a more comfortable state. But that’s just the point; as I told you before: to increase our willpower we must move away from that which keeps us comfortable.

In addition, the health benefits are varied: it improves circulation, reduces fatigue and muscle pain, improves emotional state (some studies suggest that it even serves as an aid in the treatment of depression), stimulates weight loss and also produces endorphin secretion, which makes it an almost addictive experience, despite the discomfort.

It must be kept in mind that abrupt exposure to low temperatures causes blood vessels to constrict, which could be dangerous for people who suffer from hypertension or heart problems.

Also, it is important never to expose yourself too long to extreme temperatures. Even those Scandinavians who are famous for drilling holes in ice and diving into icy water don’t do so for more than a minute and a half because there is a risk of hypothermia.

If you’re willing to incorporate cold showers into your routine, you can start slowly, switching between hot and cold water (30 seconds of each) or just rinse off the soap with cold water. The possibilities are varied, find the one that best suits you, as long as it is out of your comfort.

2 – Eating five times a day

Studies have been conducted that suggest that lack of willpower is related to blood glucose levels. This means that when we exercise our self-control, brain cells consume glucose faster than the bloodstream can provide it.

These findings lead to the conclusion that eating regularly to maintain the flow of glucose to the brain serves to recharge our willpower. However, experts point out that healthy foods are better at this process than those loaded with empty calories and refined sugars.

Even if your goal is not to diet, eating five times a day, in a balanced way and with small portions, will serve to replenish your self-control reserves.

3 – Exercise

Australian scientists from the University of Sydney conducted an experiment in which they assigned a group of volunteers to a physical exercise routine for two months.

At the end of this period, participants who were consistent in their routine performed better on a measure of self-control than those who should not have followed the exercise regimen.

will power exercise

In addition, participants reported smoking less, drinking less alcohol, eating healthier, and monitoring their spending more carefully.

The scientists concluded that working on willpower on a regular basis through physical exercise leads to greater discipline in almost all areas of life.

If you have ever done calisthenics or crossfit you should know that burpee is not a pleasant or comfortable exercise. I can tell you that after almost three years of exercising five days a week, performing that simple exercise still requires will power.

For you, perhaps, running or going to the gym will help. There are even apps that help you exercise 7 minutes a day. The Freeletics coach also offers a personalized workout plan to get you in shape in 15 weeks. The options are many, the important thing is that you do a physical activity that takes you out of your comfort zone.

4 – Five minutes more each day

One of the things that most frightens university students is the moment of graduation, especially if it is by means of a thesis. On countless occasions I have seen that, despite having a real desire to graduate, they continue to postpone the project until they can no longer do it.

Some even never get their professional degree, even though they could finish the thesis in a couple of months.

This extends to almost anyone: there are tasks that we simply don’t want to do.

It is not because we are lazy or because we are not really passionate about what we do, but because sometimes the mere idea of working on something too big or overwhelming causes us stress and we prefer to do something pleasant. The key is there.

This activity takes us out of our comfort zone and we can use that to our advantage in just three steps:

  1. Identify only one large task you don’t want to do.
  2. Perform the activity for 5 minutes with full concentration. No matter how much you produce or the quality of the result.
  3. The next day continue the work, but now increase your concentration time by at least 5 minutes. Continue the increments day by day.

The great thing about this strategy is that not only do we reinforce our self-control, we also begin to create a habit that, once established, will not consume our resources of willpower.

5 – 2 minute rule

In his book, Getting Things Done, David Allen proposes a strategy to end a large percentage of our procrastination instantly.

The secret is that most of the things we leave for later actually consume only a tiny fraction of our time, so we might as well finish them. Washing the dishes, folding the laundry, organizing our desk, taking out the garbage…

If a task takes less than two minutes, do it immediately.

It is simple and by doing so you will be exercising your will power. Also, you can use this rule in more complex projects if you separate them into smaller objectives.

Want to write more? Write a single line of text. Do you want to eat healthier? Eat a piece of fruit, do you want to read more? Read a page from a book.

Once you start, you will most likely continue and write several paragraphs, eat a salad or read several chapters of the book.