Can Temptation Be A Source of Positive Motivation?

Can Temptation Be A Source of Positive Motivation?

By: Tracy Randall, Ph.D., Esq.
© 2016

At its essence, "willpower" is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.

One of the biggest struggles for me and for a number of other’s to achieve success in our home and business is consistency. I tried different ways on how to improve my consistency and wanted to figure out what is the main things that affect it. So, I found some survey where the participants regularly cite lack of willpower as the No. 1 reason for lack of success or not achieving goals.
Willpower: How could we improve our lives if only we had more of that mysterious thing called willpower? With more self-control we would all eat right, exercise regularly, avoid drugs and alcohol, save for retirement, stop procrastinating, and achieve all sorts of noble goals.
In recent years, scientists have made some compelling discoveries about the ways that willpower works and how it is related to achieving your goals. Lack of willpower isn’t the only reason you might fail to reach your goals. Willpower researcher Roy Baumeister, Ph.D., a psychologist at Florida State University, describes four necessary components for achieving objectives:
Establish motivation for change
Set a clear goal
Monitor your behavior toward that goal
Use Willpower - Whether your goals is to lose weight, kick a smoking habit, study more, or spend less time on Facebook, willpower is a critical step to achieving that outcome.
At its essence, willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals. There are great reasons to resist temptation to meet those goals.
Willpower is the key to success. Successful people strive, no matter what they feel, by applying their will to overcome apathy, doubt or fear.

– Dan Millman

Define Willpower

We have many common names for willpower: determination, drive, resolve, self-discipline, self-control. But psychologists characterize willpower, or self-control, in more specific ways. According to most psychological scientists, willpower can be defined as:

The ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals. The capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling or impulse. The ability to employ a “cool” cognitive system of behavior rather than a “hot” emotional system. Conscious, effortful regulation of the self by the self. A limited resource capable of being depleted.
Poverty and Financial Decision-Making Enhanced by Willpower

Whether you’re lured by new shoes or a new car, the temptation to buy is an all-too-familiar test of will. Just as unhealthy food choices have become ubiquitous, so too have opportunities for impulse spending. ATMs are everywhere, and online shopping means you can burn through your savings without ever leaving the house. And as in other areas of life, from overeating to resisting alcohol, people’s purchasing behavior has been shown to be subject to willpower depletion. Financial decision-making may be even more challenging for people living in poverty. Their willpower strength is run down by their difficult financial decision-making for not understanding credit and/or credit worthiness or just too many big ticket impulsive items. Poverty often means there is a lack of financial knowledge in saving and investing.
I compiled ten (10) ideas on how you can strengthen your will and become a stronger person. By implementing some of them you may find yourself on a completely different level. I found these ideas by reading The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life by Robin Sharma. Additional information comes from the American Psychological Association Website

Ways to Strengthen Your Will and Become Stronger

Enhance Your Willpower:

It is likely one of the best training programs you can invest in. All elite performers have high levels of self-discipline. How can willpower be strengthened? If willpower is truly a limited resource, as the research suggests, what can be done to conserve it? Here are some ideas to strengthen your will and become a stronger person.
1. Do not let your mind float like a piece of paper in the wind. Work hard to keep it focused at all times. When doing a task, think of nothing else. When walking to work, count the steps that it takes to get all the way to the office. This is not easy but your mind will soon understand that you hold its reins and not vice versa. Your mind must eventually become as still as a candle flame in a corner where there is no draft.

2. Your will is like a muscle. You must first exercise it and then push before it gets stronger. This necessarily involves short term pain but be assured that the improvements will come and will touch your character in a most positive way. When you are hungry, wait another hour before your meal. When you are laboring over a difficult task and your mind is prompting you to pick up the latest magazine for a break or to get up and go talk to a friend, curb the impulse. Soon you will be able to sit for hours in a precisely concentrated state. Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest classical physicists the world has produced, once said: “if I have done the public any service, it is due to patient thought.” Newton had a remarkable ability to sit quietly and think without interruption for very long periods of time. If he can develop this, so can you.

3. You can also build your will-power by restraint in your conduct with others. Speak less (use the 60/40 Rule = listen 60% of the time and speak a mere 40%). This will not only make you more popular but you will learn much wisdom as everyone we meet, every day has something to teach us. Also, restrain the urge to gossip or to condemn someone who you feel has made a mistake. Stop complaining and develop a cheerful, vital and strong personality. You will greatly influence others.

4. When a negative thought comes to your mind, immediately replace it with one that is positive. Positive always dominates over the negative and your mind has to be conditioned to think only the best thoughts. Negative thinking is a conditioned process whereby the negative patterns are established over and over. Rid yourself of any limitations and become a powerful positive thinker.

5. Avoiding temptation is one effective tactic for maintaining self-control. The “out of sight, out of mind” principle applies to everyone. One recent study, for instance, found office workers who kept candy in a desk drawer indulged less than when they kept the candy on top of their desks, in plain sight.

6. Another helpful tactic for improving self-control is a technique that psychologists call an “implementation intention.” Usually, these intentions take the form of “if-then” statements that help people plan for situations that are likely to foil their resolve. For example, someone who’s watching her alcohol intake might tell herself before a party, “If anyone offers me a drink, then I’ll ask for club soda with lime.” Research among adolescents and adults has found that implementation intentions improve self- control, even among people whose willpower has been depleted by laboratory tasks. Having a plan in place ahead of time may allow you to make decisions in the moment without having to draw on your willpower.

7. One interesting method that works particularly well is to use your opposite hand. Your brain is wired to use your dominant hand, so it takes willpower to use the opposite. To get started, select a chunk of the day to use your opposite hand. It doesn’t need to be any more than an hour in order to get results. And from personal experience, if you aim for more than an hour, you will unnecessarily tire out your willpower muscle.

8. Create and meet self-imposed deadlines. Anyone who remembers their college days, remembers what it was like cramming for a test or doing a last minute paper. Your willpower gets taxed as you try to tune out distractions and become hyper-productive. Using this same principle, researchers found that by creating self-imposed deadlines you can work your willpower in the same way.

9. To get started, simply pick a task on your to-do list that you may have been putting off. Set a deadline for accomplishing it, and make sure you adhere to it. The participants who followed this process for 2 weeks not only got their old to-dos done, but also improved their diets, exercised more, and cut back on cigarettes and alcohol.

10. This method can help you improve financial self-control – Keep track of your spending. In the same way, most of us don’t track the food that we eat, many of us don’t track our spending either. Even if you don’t cut back on spending – which would also be a willpower workout – researchers found that simply keeping track of where your money went will improve your willpower. To get started, try using a budgeting app like Mint. Mint can connect to your bank account, credit cards, etc. and automatically track your purchases. By simply reviewing this on a regular basis, you will see increases in your focus and ability to resist unrelated temptations like sweets.

11. A final exercise is to simply be more mindful of your decisions throughout the day. We are often so lost in thought, that our actions become automatic. Taking time to think about why you are making your daily decisions will increase your ability to focus and resist temptations. To get started, try to catch yourself in an automatic behavior and ask yourself why you are doing it. This may be questioning why you are eating cereal instead of eggs for breakfast, or it may be questioning why exactly you put 2 sugars in your coffee. Anyway, you can think consciously about a typical automatic behavior will increase your focus and self-control.

Like all muscles in the body, willpower can be strengthened with the right practice. Above you will find 11 practical and effective ways to strengthen your self-control, focus, and perseverance. Do not try to do all 11 at once. Think about training your willpower muscle like training for a marathon. Your first training run wouldn’t be the full 26 miles or even close to that. You would start small and gradually build up as your muscles got stronger.

So choose just 1 of these workouts to add to your daily routine. Determine which workout seems practical and effective for the goal you want to achieve and get to work. By simply following the steps laid out, you will be well on your way to becoming mentally stronger!
When you start to work on your willpower it is very useful to find a partner or even better a group of partners where you can keep each other on track. If you don’t have one yet, I would love to invite you to our weekly Wednesday Think Tank, and alliance. Our group is made up of people who want a lot more out of life.

P.S. “The more things you do, the more you can do.” – Lucille Ball