The Relationship Between Habits and Willpower

There is no denying that maintaining willpower for any length of time is challenging. You can stick to a diet for a little while but then the hunger consumes you. And yes, we can do exercise we hate for a while… until we run out of willpower. You can even create a solid schedule for a week just to lose your steam over time.

And yet, getting up and getting the kids to school, going to work every day all those seem to occur a lot easier without running out of wilpower.

That’s because they have become habits. They are so ingrained in what we do and who we are that we do them without even considering skipping a day or a week. We don’t have to make a conscious decision each day to shower or drive to work. It’s just what we do – a habit. 

For me, this is journaling in the mornings before even sitting down at my desk to get to work. And not eating my first meal until noon and working out 2-3 days a week.

There is this relationship between habits and willpower that becomes pretty clear when you want to build a new habit. Because it takes a lot of willpower to get it done day in and day out. But you start to establish that habit, it becomes easier and easier to do until you don’t even have to think about it anymore. 

For my son it’s his medication routine – without having to think about it he gets up, goes to the bathroom and takes his meds.

Just being aware of this process helps us stick it out. We know we don’t always have to make such a big effort to go work out or skip the donut for breakfast. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We know eventually, it will become a habit to go out for a run first thing in the morning and grab some fruit or fix some eggs for breakfast. 

While we’re in that transition from willpower to habit, we can use tools to make it easier. Use a productivity planner or set a reminder to help stay on track. Find an accountability partner to help you stay motivated and help bolster that willpower when it starts to fade after the first enthusiasm wears off. Even something as simple as laying out your running clothes the night before and keeping your sneakers by the door will make it a little easier to go out for that run. 

And something I find absolutely key is to know why you want to create new rituals and habits. Time and time again it has helped me maintain my willpower to keep going and now things just part of my day.

Do what you can to help your willpower along until you have made the new behavior a true habit. After that, it’ll be easy and automatic and you’ve created a new lifelong habit.

I want to hear from you. What habit do you want to create and why do you want to do this?

About the author

Petra Monaco is an artist, author, and professional problem solver for creatives, rebels, and multi-passionates.

She is here to help you remove frustration from your life and achieve your creative dreams with more ease and confidence.

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