Politician, inventor, author and statesman Ben Franklin once said, ‘You can do anything you set your mind to.’ But although most of us want to achieve goals in life such as financial success, the truth of the matter is so many of us find our goals elusive.
Willpower is key to achieving our goals — but willpower is a challenge for most folks. How do we know this? Just 8% of people reach their New Year’s resolutions every year. If willpower were easy, there would be a whole lot more millionaires in the world!
But the fact is, if you can rule over yourself, you can do just about anything. John Milton said, ‘He who reigns within himself and rules passions, desires and fears is more than a king.’ This makes finding willpower very, very valuable.
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A study on willpower
In 1972, Stanford University’s Walter Mischel studied 600 children to try to find out if having willpower as a child meant success later on in life.
To do this experiment, he sat the children down at a table and gave each one a choice. The first choice was the ability to eat one marshmallow now. The second choice was to be able to get two marshmallows by waiting 15 minutes.
It was difficult. Just one-third of the kids were up to the challenge of waiting 15 minutes for the second marshmallow.
But, as the kids grew up, the differences between the kids who were able to wait and the kids who couldn’t wait were amazing.
The kids who were able to wait ‘got better grades, were healthier, enjoyed greater professional success, and proved better at staying in relationships — even decades after they took the test. They were, in short, better at life,’ according to Bloomberg Business.
If you’re stuck when it comes to willpower, here are 7 ways to help you strengthen your willpower muscle!
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7 steps to boost willpower
1. Write down your goals.
Write down your goals, and visualize what it will be like when you hit them! Will you be able to take a vacation? Will you have peace of mind in case of an emergency? Keeping your goals in front of you is one way to ‘keep your eye on the ball’ and stay motivated.
2. Think positive.
It’s hard to accomplish your goals if you don’t think you can. Even if you experience a setback, resolve to get back on the horse! Be your own best cheerleader. After all, you can do whatever you set your mind to do!
3. Cut temptations.
It’s easy to break down your willpower if you put yourself in tempting situations. Avoid malls. If you have to, cut up (at least some) of those credit cards. Take a different route instead of driving past your favorite coffee place. Whatever your weak spot is when it comes to spending, find ways around it!
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4. Eat some food and get enough sleep.
There’s a reason why financial experts recommend not going to the grocery store hungry — you will eat more! Studies show fluctuations in glucose may be related to the ability for people to exhibit self-control. So feel free to eat something when you’re hungry — it will help you maintain your willpower!
In addition to glucose levels, getting enough sleep may help us make better decisions, according to research. Not getting enough sleep can cause so many problems, such as irritability, difficulty focusing and chronic health problems. Boost your willpower by getting enough Zzz’s!
5. Maintain good financial habits.
Good habits such as brushing our teeth become second nature after time. Good financial habits such as saving, spending less than you make and monitoring your accounts become easier when you make them habits! Decide what financial disciplines are the most beneficial to you, and keep using them until they become something you don’t even have to think about.
6. Break up your goals into bite-size pieces.
You’ve probably heard the old adage… the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. This is especially true with finance.
Most people who are wealthy didn’t get there by winning the lottery or the luck of the draw. They got there by the tortoise approach — slow and steady wins the race. Consistent habits are what make the biggest difference when it comes to wealth building and financial success.
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7. Get support.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and anyone who is successful will tell you they didn’t get there alone! Find some people who can encourage you in your goals and keep you on the right track. This might be done by reading books that can help to motivate you and keep you inspired, reading or watching stories of other folks who have achieved their financial goals to help keep you inspired or being a part of a goal-setting group. Or, it could be a combination of all of these!
It takes willpower to not buy that brand new smartphone you’ve had your eye on for weeks. It takes self-control to avoid spending money frivolously when you’ve had a tough day. And it takes resolve to buy the more conservative home that is thousands cheaper than the one you like better. But, making different choices and delayed gratification makes us better people, in addition to increasing the size of our bank accounts.
What other strategies have you used to increase willpower in your life?