Willpower has a physical component that can be managed and even enhanced. By creating awareness in your decision-making process and by learning how to effectively use your willpower, you can make better long-term decisions.
Questions, Comments, Observations, and Quotes
- “Self-control is a vital strength and key to success in life.” (13) And that’s not a normative statement, it’s one based on the research. We all know that some decisions have better outcomes than others – so the more we’re able to choose the paths that lead to those outcomes the better off we’ll be.
- It’s fascinating that we have a sort of “self-control reserve” that gets depleted. Roy’s (and other’s) research links it to glucose in our bodies. So there is a physical component to our willpower – and it’s why it’s harder for me to make good decisions as I get more tired and more hungry at the end of the day. I know that I’m exhausted at the end of long meetings and I don’t even want to try to make decisions. It’s similar to the concepts put forth by Loehr and Schwartz in the Power of Full Engagement when looking at personal change.
- The Nothing Alternative of Raymond Chandler is brilliant. When talking about his writing method, he said: “Write or nothing.” (254) It’s an example of a bright-line rule, one that is “…clear, simple, and unambiguous”. (185) I’ve found that I’m most successful with making changes when I set myself hard and fast rules. For example, I go on a mini-ast with a specific food every month like pizza or candy, and I’ve found that I can’t leave myself any leeway. I can’t have just a little of the food, I have to cut it out completely. Putting those rules in place makes it easier – and that was supported by the findings that willpower is used most effectively in creating positive habits, instead of continually trying to fight temptation. (cf. Duhigg’s The Power of Habit)
- The Zeignarik Effect: “Uncompleted tasks and unmet goals tend to pop into one’s mind”. (81) My brain totally jumps around from activity to activity, which can be problematic if I’m trying to focus on one task. That’s the reason I keep a piece of paper on my desk to capture stray thoughts. And hopefully purge them from my conscious mind, if only for a little bit.