Do you ever find yourself compulsively spending? Do you ever procrastinate at work? Do you have the tendency to often choose for an unhealthy diet? You are definitely not alone. We’ve all been through times when we chose the easy option over the more sensible option. Fortunately, there are simple (scientifically-proven) strategies you can use in your daily life to strengthen your willpower. Once your willpower and self-control is strengthened, you’ll be more able to resist any temptation next time it knocks on your door! Let’s do this.
1. Improve your posture
Remember when your parents told you to sit up straight? If you’re still not sitting up straight all the time – like a lot of us – you can use that to your advantage now. Try the two-week posture experiment to improve your own willpower. The key of this experiment is changing a habitual behavior that eventually will lead to a stronger self-control and more beneficial changes in your life. When you force yourself to sit up straight every time you find yourself slouching, you are exercising your self-control and willpower to do something you are usually not used to do.
2. Use your non-dominant hand for tasks
Another simple strategy is to start using a different hand for your everyday tasks. For instance, if you’re right-handed, you tend to use your right hand for all sorts of tasks without giving it too much thought. Forcing yourself to switch to your left hand when you brush your teeth, when you open a door, when you take a sip from your cup of coffee, is an exercise in self-control. Note to lefties: this exercise might not be as effective for you, because you might already be fairly ambidextrous in a world that is oriented for right-handed people. So remember: if it’s too easy, this might not be the right exercise for you. No strain, no gain!
3. Change your speech habits
Do you ever say “like” or “you know” constantly without thinking about it? Try to avoid that. Too easy? Try also to only say “yes” and “no” instead of “yeah/yup” or “nah/nope”. Still too easy? I have another challenge you can add to this exercise. Try avoiding swear and curse words. The challenge in avoiding cursing is the exercise of resisting the impulse to say them. Good luck!
4. Change the routine, keep the reward
The key to get rid of a bad habit is not to extinguish it, but to merely change a few things. A habit consists of a cue (for instance, you’re feeling down), a routine (for instance, whenever you’re feeling down, you start drinking), and a reward (drinking makes you feel better again). The key here is to keep the reward (feeling better again), but to change the habit (excessive drinking behavior). The challenge is to know your cue and reward, so you can change your routine. If you know that you start to drink once you feel bad, and that drinking somehow makes you feel better again, try to find another routine that can replace drinking. For instance, maybe talking to your friends or family can have the same reward: talking to loved ones about what is troubling you might make you feel better, too. Or simply write down your thoughts. So remember: keep the reward, change the routine.