Even though we rightly know what the best choices and actions are that lead to a healthier lifestyle, quite often when it comes to the crunch, our willpower takes charge. Before you know it there goes another day and another 3pm chocolate bar and another opportunity to make a change. Damn it.
So, what’s up with that and why do we so easily do something when we know it’s not the best option ..better still how do we go about fixing it?
There have been many studies published lately that prove this crazy phenomenon and it’s called decision fatigue (yes there is an real science behind it). What this means is that from the moment we wake we’re bombarded with decisions that need to be made.
Simple things such as shall I put petrol in the car now or later, what’s for dinner, what exercise shall I do today, what are the kids going to have in their lunchbox. Ultimately these all take their toll and we’re left with a fading, useless willpower by the end of the day – Hence we fall back onto bad habits or whatever is the easiest option (like not lacing up your joggers but reaching for the uggboots!).
It’s common to feel this after a busy day, when there has been lots going on and everyone wants a bit of you. Even though you’ve not done anything physical you’re still feeling drained (my introvert personality does anyways!)
The good news is that you can take this head on and devise a plan to overcome this ‘lack of willpower” in regards to your exercise, diet and wellbeing. Use willpower to your advantage by building mental toughness at the right times.
5 Tricks I Use Everyday So I’m NOT Relying on My Willpower
1. I knock over the important things early in the day
Is it exercise? Eating a healthy breakfast? Planning and making your meals for the day? Working on your blog/study or new business venture? Make a list and get the more important things done first while your morale and enthusiasm is high. More than likely if you have a demanding day, this will deplete all willpower and make it nearly impossible to get the important things done in the evening (I just want to relaaxxx!)
I know I find it hard to knock out a hard session in the evening after the kids have had their piece of me during the day (or after school sport). See mornings as an opportunity. Hardly ever do I regret waking up 30 mins earlier, but so thankful that I made that decision to stick with my guns and not opt for immediate gratification by staying in bed.
2. I do a nightly mind check
Before you close your eyes, run through in your mind what the next day brings, what do you want to do? what’s on for the family? Set your workout clothes next to your bed so it’s one less decision in the morning.
Have the evening meal in mind from the meal plan you made at the start of the week with the ingredients already in the fridge that you bought from your weekly shop. Know what things you want to tackle first (see above). Plan, plan, plan!
3. I don’t (try not to) stress the small stuff
Arm yourself with knowing that your willpower has a fatigue rate and save it for real decisions.
Don’t waste your energy on things out of your control or that can wait until later. A 5 minute power meditation always tops up my willpower levels if they feel a little low during the day.
4. I feed myself well
It is hard to make any good decision if your mind is not clear and a clear mind comes from a healthy body (and happy tummy). Take healthy snacks to work or carry them in your handbag to counteract the times you are feeling depleted and need to decide on something that maybe requires you to think beyond your decision threshold!
A balanced body comes from balanced eating and a balanced mind. If you charge yourself up on coffee or sugar and rely on this to get you through the day then you’re probably facing burnout.
5. Don’t over think everything man (I’m working on this one)!
It’s easier just to do things than think about them too much. More often than not, we spend so much damn time to and froing whether we should do something we know we should be doing, when in the end it could have already been done. If this is not the definition of crazy then it certainly will make us feel like it!
Spending more than 5 minutes deciding if it will be beef or chicken for dinner, go for a jog or surf (or do nothing) or buy one cereal brand over another brand is just a precious time waster and guzzling up your willpower tank. Another reason why planning is important. No more than 2 minutes on a decision people! Oh, and know to recognise when that evil twin is sitting on your shoulder trying it’s hardest to make you take the easier option.
It’s nice to have decisions to make, it makes life interesting and stops that ‘robotic’ feeling that can come with a sense of groundhog day, but what I’m saying is there is a point where it can work against you and end up taking you in the opposite direction from where you want to be.
Does this ring true to you? Have you found your willpower starts to putt putt putt in the afternoons?
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