We HAVE to Talk About Willpower

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A common belief, particularly around weight loss, is that we can power through whatever challenge if we just had enough willpower.

Yeah.  That works out so well, doesn’t it?
Here’s the truth:  Willpower drains through the day.  That’s why we can get through work or a meeting without bothering with the selection of snacks laid before us, but when we finish the day, we either dash through the drive-thru or fall to whatever presents itself in the evening. We’ve used our store of willpower, yet we blame ourselves like it’s a character flaw.
Willpower is a quickly vanishing and finite resource, and so many things drain it – not just food choices.  If you have made a lot of decisions throughout the day, decision fatigue drains what you hoped to use for your food choices.  If you’re struggling with your wound and the blame/shame/low self-esteem that results, it drains your willpower. If you’re working through a challenging time, it drains – well, all your resources, doesn’t it?   Seriously, it’s not your fault; willpower is just a very small reservoir of power drained by everything.  Yet somehow we think we can depend on it to help us stay on track.
There are two ways to manage willpower.  First: Automate
Automate or make rules around as many decisions throughout the day as possible.  You already do it with your morning routine – cleaning your teeth, putting on the coffee or boiling the kettle.  You don’t think about those things, you just follow your routine.  So, make certain decisions your habit rather than a choice you have to make again and again.
I had a very useful rule when I did some work in a hospital because the food so kindly brought to workplaces is usually not helpful for my waistline.  My rule was:  I do not take free food at work. It becomes a habit, so you no longer waste willpower on making a choice – nor do you do the mental calculations or self-berating and loathing.
Yes, it takes time and planning initially, but it saves you time and regret later.  I hate to think of how much money and effort I spent losing the same two to fifty pounds over and over and over when a few automatic decisions have saved me so much grief.  Automating saves willpower and will help you stay on track to reach your goals.

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