Hone Your Willpower

A new year is upon us and along with it a host of self-perpetuated goals and stresses. Whether you admit to making New Year’s resolutions or not the fact is we all generally strive to do better, to be better in the New Year. Culturally it becomes a time of renewal a sort of restart button if you will. Some people even have their own rituals they practice such as pulling around luggage at the midnight hour hoping for more travel. Others write letters of emotional baggage they would like to leave behind then throw them into the fire, while still others eat grapes for good luck. Whatever your ritual, whatever your desires this has become the time of year where anything is possible if only we want it enough to make it happen.

One goal on top of most people’s desires is often to be thinner, or fitter or healthier. Whether it’s - I’m going to eat healthier this year or exercise more or stop smoking the commonality is to be a better physical manifestation of ourselves.  A self that I and maybe everyone else will like better. So, we make a resolution to make our goals a reality and unfortunately fail more often than we succeed. What happens is life gets in the way, distractions, supposed lack of time and the ease of making excuses to oneself. Best intentions fall victims to a lack of willpower.   


Webster’s defines willpower as: energetic determination : the ability to control yourself. This relates to the ability to keep yourself from doing something you shouldn’t as well as the ability to do something difficult. This is where we normally fail. It’s the weak link in the chain. Once the will to continue subsides so does the power. No amount of wanting can achieve the desired goals without the willful determination to do whatever it takes to succeed. Interestingly, willpower seems to be situational. Some people have great willpower when it comes to their diet, yet can’t bring themselves to exercise while others can workout daily, but can’t control what they eat. Some achieve great financial success through hard work and determination, but fail repeatedly at relationships. Everyone has a level willpower over aspects of their lives, but few have a willpower that permeates every aspect of their life.

Nurture Your Willpower

Willpower street sign - Ultimate Health Personal Training - Los Angeles

The first step in nurturing your will power is to find your balance. Ask yourself why you are successful in the areas of your life in which you succeed. Be honest with yourself about areas in which you are less than successful and compare the two. What are the differences in motivation, value and perception?  For instance are you more prone to judge and be judged based on financial status rather than say physical attributes.

Now chart your priorities, there is only so much time, energy and willpower each day to devote to everything you do. If your career takes up 90% of it that doesn’t leave much to go around for everything else. This means that your physical, spiritual and social life suffers. Your balance like fingerprints is uniquely your own. What works for one won’t necessarily work for another

Create your own mold. We are creatures of habit. These habits can often be detrimental to growth because they prevent us from stepping out of our comfort zones. When you feel ready to make a change do so in small steps. Many small steps are favorable to one large step for the reason above; leaving your comfort zone can be scary and off putting. As you build your balance mold allow yourself to find comfort in every step before progressing. Redirecting your focus, your energy and your thoughts takes time. The goal is to find your own balance, one that leaves you feeling fulfilled and empowered.  

Diet and Exercise Willpower

Since this is a health and fitness blog I want to discuss diet and exercise willpower more specifically. I’ve been a personal trainer in Los Angeles for close to 25 years. Every year I get a few clients in the mix of new enrollees who tell me they want to come in every day. This is not someone who already exercises 3 times a week and just wants to step it up which is fine, but rather someone just starting out. These folks unfortunately seldom last more than a couple of weeks. The problem is over reach. They generally over estimate their level of commitment and underestimate time conflicts.  Once they fall off they can’t seem to get back on. Those who take a more nuanced approach tend to continue significantly longer and therefore achieve their goals more commonly. 

When nurturing your diet and exercise willpower use a less is more approach. Make easier to achieve if not downright easy goals and build from there. If you are trying this whole healthy life change yet again (and you should) then start with maybe a 2 days a week schedule. When that starts to feel easy and fulfilling and becomes part of your comfort zone then consider adding yet another day. Let’s say diet is your nemesis, every time you have tried you have failed. Start by cutting out one bad food and replacing it with one healthy choice. When that feels easy try another. Remember real weight loss requires lifestyle change. Play the long game and let it become natural and never forced. If you falter consider it a part of the learning curve, forgive and forget and get back on schedule.

Everyone has willpower now you just have to take some of the cues to your successes and apply them to the other areas of your life. Start small, forgive backslides and play it for the long game.