Automating decisions reduces the strain on your willpower reserves. How many ideas did you have for automating decisions? Have you executed them yet? Start with one. I know the tendency to try to implement a gazillion new things at once. The result, most often, is sabotage. So start with one. Add more as you go.
The second way to manage willpower: Your self-image, which is stronger and will transcend the limitations of willpower every time. Your self-image has more purpose.
So how do you use your self-image to stay on track? Strengthen your awareness of it and then draw upon it.
Who is the person you are or want to be?
Often, that person is stronger, more creative, more mature, and – add the string of positive qualities to which you aspire.
Yet if I’m here, and that better self is there, um – well, I’ll eventually grow into it, right?
It’s not magic. Cultivating your best requires intention, effort, and a vision.
Create: Create a detailed description of who you want to be. Make it true to your heart, of course, but note who you are at your best and imagine that expanding into even better. What qualities do you possess? How would you dress or walk or live or talk? What would you do when confronted with an ethical challenge, a difficult relationship issue, a conflict at work? What would you do when staring down a bag of Oreos?
Evaluate: Do your current habits and choices serve your best self? What needs to change?
Stretch: What activities, choices, and mindset will help you grow into more of that best self? What books, courses, coaching, or spiritual practices would help you grow?
One of my favorite questions to ask of myself and my clients is: Is that who you want to be? Often for me, the answer is no, and then I adjust what I’m doing, thinking, or feeling in order to be the person I want to be. It’s an ongoing process, but it’s a good one.
So how does this help? Think about that bag of Oreos or any food or extra portion when you’re tempted to go off track. Calling to mind your best self will help you make better choices in the moment when you’d like the cookie but know it won’t help you achieve your goal. Automating checking in with your best self is a slam dunk for success.