5 Steps Towards Improving Your Willpower

How to find the inner fuel to stay focused and keep working towards your goals.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.
Improve Your Willpower Gillian M Duncan Clarity Junction

Do you feel as though you have no willpower?

Do you always seem to give up on your goals not long after starting them and this happens time and time again?

Do you seem to go round in circles and achieve nothing?

Where does your willpower go? Did you ever have enough to begin with?

Are you starting to believe that there’s no such thing as willpower, only luck? If so, read on.

Willpower – The Super Power

Although we are all aware willpower exists, and that we are all capable of it, it sounds like some super-natural power that only super-heroes possess. If you have ever tried to refuse your favourite high-calorie treat when you are on a diet, then no one could blame you if you actually believed this!

Everyone does possess this ability to have willpower, however. Just think of a time when you were determined to do something that you were told you couldn’t do, or have something that you couldn’t have. Perhaps you were told you couldn’t have a dog, but you kept working your parents until they gave in. Or, perhaps you were told by your tutor that you would never pass an exam, but somehow, you proved them wrong and passed with flying colours?

What Is Willpower?

The difference between having and not having willpower all depends on your passion to achieve something. If the instant reward of eating the delicious cake takes precedence over your long-term goal of weight-loss then the cake wins every time. If you tutor stirred ambition in your heart to prove them wrong, then you will study with dedication, knowing the reward is in sight.

So, willpower is the ability to have control over your actions and behaviours. This means that you are able to choose desirable actions or behaviours over less desirable ones, such as impulses and those habits that lead to contradicting outcomes to your goals.

How Can You Find Willpower?

Willpower is fuelled by emotion. 

You may have wonderful dreams and ambitions. You may have decided to lose weight because you have been told you need to for the sake of your health. You may be studying for a degree because you need one to get the promotion. You may be saving up for a new house. 

If these dreams are not fuelled by a deep underlying emotion of passion and determination, then you are unlikely to achieve them. You need to feel that you need to lose weight for yourself – not because you have been told to. You need to want to gain the degree for your own personal pride, not because you’ve been told you have to do it to move up in the company pecking order. You need to be saving for the house of your dreams, or one that you desperately want, or you will find yourself being content with your current lodgings and end up spending the savings on things you desire now, rather than on your long-term goal.

If you have this passion at the root of your goals you will be more likely to succeed.

If you don’t have this passion it’s time to take another look at your goals and come up with alternatives that really light your internal fire.

Improving Your Willpower

So, you have the emotional fuel behind your goals. You really try your best each and every day. Some days, however, seem more of a struggle. Even when your heart is bursting with desire to achieve your goal, there are bound to be some days where you struggle, particularly if your goal is a long-term one that requires you to have constant impulse control every day.

Firstly, don’t beat yourself up if you have a relapse and your willpower slips. This doesn’t mean that you will fail. What it means is that you need a little help to boost your willpower so that you can go get that dream with even more motivation and determination.

Here are 5 steps that you can take today to help get you back on track and boost your super-hero willpower!

1. List Priorities

Sometimes you can be working towards a goal, only to be put off track by something else that pops into your life. You get distracted and end up diverting your time, energy and funds to the other situation. Before you know it, you are on a different path altogether, and further away from your long-term goal.

A trick that you may find helpful is to write down your goals, and put them in order of priority.

List your top 3 and write them on a small piece of card – small enough that you can put it in your pocket, purse or handbag.

When you are tempted to stray from your goal, take the card out and read it. It will act as a reminder that whatever action you are drawn to, it must favour your desired goal. If it doesn’t help you to achieve the result that you want, then re-think what you are doing, and keep focused on the end result.

2. Reward the Correct Decision

It is really hard to stay motivated when you have a long-term goal.

It can sometimes take years to achieve these types of goals, and that often comes with years of sacrifice too. It’s all to easy to get sidetracked or make the wrong decision which will set you back.

Two great examples of this is dieting or saving money for your end-goal.

Being tempted into eating the wrong food, or skipping your daily exercise will only delay you achieving your results.

Spending the money that you are saving up for your dreams, and nibbling away at it will get you nowhere. It will become an almost impossible task for you to complete.

It’s so easy to be led by temptation or impulses.

To help you make the right decision each time, make sure that you have a reward system in place.

This could be like the sticker chart system that we use for kids – sometimes just seeing the progress on a chart is reward enough, or think of a series of rewards that you can achieve at different levels of your journey.

Make sure that the rewards will make you feel motivated to keep on the right track, and they don’t hamper your journey (that it, if you are seeking weight loss, don’t make food a reward!).

3. Use Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations are great to keep your mind motivated and help you stick to your plan of action. 

Choose or write your own affirmation, and note it down next to your list of priorities. Make notes of it and pin it up anywhere that you will see it regularly, such as the fridge, on your phone, your laptop, or even the loo door!

Say it allowed or inwardly to yourself, on a regular basis, and particularly when you need that extra motivation to keep going.

Why not read it allowed and record it on to your phone, so that you can listen to it when you need that extra boost?

Affirmations can also come in the form of song.

Sometimes you come across a song that has lyrics that really speak to you – almost like the composer wrote the song especially for you. This can be a really powerful source of motivation when you feel as though you are lacking will power. As the words are linked to music they can be remembered more easily, and we all know that music can really stir emotions, so this combination can work wonders.

If you come across a song that works for you, make sure you add it to your phone’s collection, so that you can play it anytime you need a reminder that you are on a certain path, and it’s one you want to stay on.

4. Sleep and Meditation

Taking enough time to rest and recharge is necessary for all growth. You won’t get far with a foggy mind and a tired body.

Practising meditation will allow your thoughts to clarify and if you meditate on your positive affirmation, then you will be reinforcing your mission. 

Sleep is essential for complete rest. Never underestimate the power of getting 8 hours of sleep each night.

Meditation and sleep will help you to cope better with stressful situations during the day and keep you calm and collected so that you can keep making goal-orientated decisions.

5. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

If you do happen to slip up on the way, don’t beat yourself up about it!

It’s bound to happen – no one is perfect. As long as you are taking three steps forward, and two back, you are still making progress!

Putting yourself down and having negative thoughts will not boost your motivation, only address and reaffirm any self-doubt.

Learn to forgive yourself, realign yourself with your priorities, repeat your affirmation, and be supportive and kind to yourself – just as you would a friend who needed the same encouragement. 

Stand tall, dust yourself down and get back on track.

Summary – The 5 Steps to Boosting Willpower

  1. List and keep to hand your priorities
  2. Reward yourself when you make the correct decision
  3. Use positive affirmations, and make them personal to you
  4. Get enough sleep and meditate to help keep a clear and focused mind
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you have an ‘off’ day, then remind yourself of your goal and get back on track

Originally published on Clarity Junction

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


The One Muscle That Always Gets Ignored

by Karen Broda

How to Build Willpower: David Blaine on the Greatest Human Strength

by Kyle Bowe

Willpower Alone is Not Enough

by Erica Ferguson

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.