Willpower Is All About When

Understand the nature of willpower, and it will be there when you need it.

“Willpower is like a fast-twitch muscle that gets tired and needs rest. It’s incredibly powerful, but it has no endurance.” — Gary Keller

Remember the last time you called on willpower and it stood you up?

It stood you up, because you used it up. Willpower is a finite resource. It fades quickly and requires rest for refueling.

Reliability of willpower is not the issue. Timing is.

Willpower is rooted in the mind. As it tires, willpower loses strength. Particularly taxing activities include...

  • Doing something new or challenging

  • Doing something you don’t enjoy

  • Coping with negative emotions

  • Fighting temptation

Awareness of willpower as a finite resource linked to mental energy shines light on why timing is so important. Attack those willpower hogging activities when you are well rested and well fed.

Your willpower is strongest at the beginning of the day. Don’t fritter it away with meaningless tasks and distractions. Take care of your top priorities right out of the gate.

Eat well to keep your brain humming along. Willpower will suffer along with mental acuity if you don’t provide the nutrients your body needs. Try to spread healthy eating throughout the day to prevent dips in energy.

Get plenty of sleep at night. Your willpower tank will start half full without it. Likewise, take breaks throughout the day for a walk, a short nap or something else that requires little mental activity.

Stop treating willpower as an inexhaustible resource. Take care of yourself and get the timing right. Then it will be there to provide a boost when you need it most.


🤔 Food for Thought:

When was the last time willpower seemed to fail you?

Think about your mental state at the time. Could you have timed the activity better?


⚙️ One Small Step:

Pick one important thing you would like to do on a given day. Do it when you are fresh in the morning. Do you notice how much stronger your willpower is at this time?

Having trouble focusing on something and getting it done? Take a break. Go for a walk. Have a snack. Listen to some music. Relax. Then come back to what you struggled with. Notice any improvement?