You’ll Need More than Willpower to Change (But it is a Great Start!)

Many people believe they could improve their lives if only they 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, right?

Many people will say that lack of willpower is their most significant barrier to change. However, although many of us blame faulty willpower for imperfect choices, it’s clear we still have hope. Is willpower something that can be learned?

Recent research suggests that willpower can in fact be strengthened with practice. Scientists have made some compelling discoveries about the ways that willpower works.

Lack of willpower isn’t the only reason you might fail to reach your goals. Consider this:

  • One must establish the motivation for change and set a clear goal.
  • Monitor one’s behavior toward that goal.
  • Use willpower. Whether your goal 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, but the old saying, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” is quite apt, especially when it comes to changing one’s lifestyle and losing weight.

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.

Do you have the motivation to lose weight? Perhaps you have health problems due to obesity, but you can’t lose the weight you need to lose in order to improve your situation. Contact Dr. Heidi Ryan. She and her expert team can help you find the proper treatment for your unique case.

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