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9 Habits That Can Keep You From Achieving Your Dreams

As a psychotherapist, I get the honor of helping people tackle their goals. Some clients are really inspired to change their lives and just want a little direction getting there. Others feel a bit more hopeless and discouraged about creating positive change. Either way, my job is to help them take the steps they need to make their lives better.

Over the years, I’ve learned that no matter what kind of goal someone is trying to reach—health, financial, parenting, relationship, or career—there are some common traps that can keep them from living their dreams.

Here are nine of the most common traps that could prevent you from reaching your goals—and the strategies that will help you avoid them:

1. Putting your goals off until “someday.”

Since “someday” never appears on the calendar, you’ll probably never accomplish your goals if you keep pushing them off. The best of intentions won’t do you any good without a clear plan.

Solution: If a goal is important to you, create a timeline. Even if you can’t start working on it today, at least tell yourself when you can tackle it. Whether you want to apply for a promotion once your child starts school or you plan to return to college when you turn 40, stop using the word someday.

2. Waiting to take action until you feel “ready.”

If you wait until you feel ready to tackle something tough, you might be waiting a long time. It’s unlikely that you’re going to gain a sudden burst of inspiration out of the blue.

Solution: Change your behavior first. Sometimes, the emotions change later. Take action and you may gain the ambition you need to keep going.

3. Not anticipating the tough times.

Whether you want to get out of debt, or you’re hoping to lose weight, change isn’t easy. You’ll encounter some days that are harder than others and it’s important to accept that there will be a rough road ahead.

Solution: Think about potential pitfalls that you might face and develop a plan for dealing with those times when you might be tempted to give up. When you have a plan, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to keep going.

4. Viewing mistakes as failure.

Progress rarely comes in a straight line. But sometimes people think one step back means they’ve gone all the way back to square one, which causes them to give up.

Solution: Recognize that you’re going to mess up sometimes. But rather than declare yourself a failure, use your energy to create a plan to get back on track.

waiting
Don’t Wait to take action until you ‘feel’ ready.

5. Not making your goal a priority.

It’s easy to say you want to make change but actually doing the work is much different. You have to decide what kind of priority you’re going to give your goal. Otherwise, your intention will get lost among all your other daily activities.

Solution: Identify one step you’re going to take every day and put it in your calendar. You’re more likely to go to the gym, apply for a job, or spend an hour researching a new business idea if you establish a time to do it.

6. Underestimating how hard it will be.

Tackling a new goal is easy but sticking to it is hard. Assuming “This won’t be a problem at all” can leave you unprepared for the reality of the situation.

Solution: Don’t confuse overconfidence with mental strength. Rather than tell yourself it’s going to easy, remind yourself that you’re going to need to work hard to achieve your goals, despite whatever skills and talents you already possess.

7. Giving up before you see results.

Impatience is the enemy of change. And many people struggle to wait for the time it takes to reach a goal.

Solution: Just because you can’t see results doesn’t mean your efforts are wasted. You need to stick to goals longer than you might think before you experience lasting change.

8. Sabotaging yourself just before the finish line.

The fear of success can be a real problem. And if you’re not careful, you might sabotage yourself before you reach your goal. Perhaps you don’t believe you’re worthy of success or maybe you are afraid someone is going to take it away from you.

Solution: Think about past goals you’ve struggled to reach or those you’ve failed to attain. Be honest with yourself about your feelings and be on the lookout for warning signs that you might be throwing in the towel.

9. Setting your sights too high.

If you’re really excited about changing your life, you might be tempted to set the bar really high. If you take on too much too fast, however, you’ll set yourself up for failure.

Solution: Focusing too much on a big goal can be overwhelming. Establish short-term objectives and celebrate each milestone along the way.

Aug 08, 2016         Amy Morin        @AmyMorinLCSW       AmyMorinLCSW.com
Interested in learning how to give up the bad habits that rob you of mental strength?
Pick up a copy of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
Training your brain for happiness and success
source:    AmyMorinLCSW.com     www.inc.com


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Get Out of Your Comfort Zone, Now

By: Jordyn Cormier     June 5, 2016

We all strive for comfort constantly: softer chairs, bigger cars, more easily prepared meals. But our endless quest for comfort is harmful. Over time, the fortress of comfort we build around ourselves begins to strangle our happiness.

When we fall into the security of comfort—be it a cushy job, an intimate relationship or a steady routine—we gradually begin to lose that vibrancy, that creative spark that drives us to seek out new experiences. But life, at its core, is about experience and energy. It is what drives us. Would you rather spend your adventure on this planet safely watching a fancy television or would you rather do something memorable and amazing that makes you a little uneasy?

Stop claiming you’re too busy.

Experience is one of the greatest gifts life has to offer. But, so many of us shy away from them out of fear or uncertainty. We are afraid to leave the pink, fuzzy walls of our comfort fortress.

Work and ‘busyness’ are too often utilized as a veil to protect us from anything new and uncomfortable. In fact, each of us almost certainly has something we have wanted to do, only to keep putting off until the perpetual tomorrow because we are too busy right now. Busyness is an excuse to stall your hopes and dreams. Your schedule should not control you. You control your life.

Maybe you want to take dance classes, but feel too out of shape for an open class. Perhaps you want to go back to school, but feel too old. Or, you want to travel to Patagonia and fly fish for a month… Guess what, you’re not too busy, old or out of shape for anything. And once you push past the fear of novel discomfort, you’ll begin to enjoy yourself and thrive.

comfort-is-the-enemy-of-achievement

Embrace discomfort.   

Speaking of the concept of comfort, I write this from inside a crunchy, frost-glazed tent, in the middle of the Rocky Mountains at around 11,000 feet. This is my latest location on my solo cross country road trip. Considering comfort, one thing is for certain—I am currently, in every sense of the word, not comfortable. I am shivering much more than I’d prefer (a classic form of physical discomfort, although not necessarily what we are discussing here. It’s nothing some hot black coffee won’t fix in the morning).

More importantly, this adventure fills me with discomfort on a very regular basis. Every new city I visit fills me with a sense of uncertainty as I scramble to find lodging and friendly faces. The start of every new experience makes me question every decision I’ve made. Every time a mass of clutter spills out of my hatchback makes me miss the days when I had a closet and wasn’t so dependent on my car for survival.

But, even now, beneath my flimsy sleeping bag and six layers of wool and down, breath coalescing into tiny clouds around me, I feel an empowering sense of fulfillment. Yes, I long for a warm bed and a good night of sleep. But, I do not long for the monotony of routine. I’ve met incredible people, seen breathtaking landscapes and done things by myself I never thought I would have the courage to do in a zillion years. Being a little cold and a little uneasy—in other words, embracing discomfort—is a small price to pay for the pure joy of living life.

Take the plunge. 

I am absolutely not saying you have to go pitch a tent in the mountains, strategically set up between plops of frozen Grizzly bear poop. That is not for everyone. But, it is important to allow yourself to drift outside of your standard comfort zone so that you can continue to grow as an authentic human being.

Stop hiding behind your busyness and take time to think about what you want out of life. A lot of us drift through our days on autopilot, which is much easier than pushing yourself and confronting your insecurities. I urge you, push your perceived boundaries. Go do that thing you’ve always wanted to do… today! Go sign up for a month of dance classes! Go make time in your schedule for that trip you want to take! Go see that new movie even though you have no one to go with! You’ll walk away with a more enlightened perception of your life, and, most importantly, a sense of empowerment and joy.

The best experiences in life make us uncomfortable at first. But, when that discomfort subsides, that is when true, passionate living begins.


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Doing This ONE Thing Reduces Stress and Improves Brain Performance

There’s a reason that they call it ‘paying’ attention, and doing this one thing can help you reduce stress and help your brain perform better, rather than making you pay for your effort.

Mentally, it can be exhausting to not even get much done in a work day or a day at home when you hoped to get more done than you accomplished. But you just can’t keep pushing forward when your brain stops working as well as it should.

This lack of mental clarity and the stress that not being able to finish a simple task as you should is something we’ve covered in previous articles.

Negative emotions, old ways of thinking, fears about our abilities, and too much going on in the place that we are trying to think can all interfere with our performance and mental ability. Let’s look at the one thing you need to be doing to reduce the stress and improve your mental performance.

DOING THIS ONE THING REDUCES STRESS AND IMPROVES YOUR BRAIN PERFORMANCE

Spending more time, energy and effort on a project until it is complete may seem like it will get things done faster, but it’s a bad idea to go full steam. Unless a deadline is looming, use this one thing to reduce stress and improve performance; slow down.

The more time you can devote to whatever it is you are working on, the better you will perform, in both quality and accuracy. Deliberate movement, thought and being open to receiving all of the sensory information that is coming in will help you feel calm and mentally clear.

Slowing down our movements and speech is the easiest way to start using this technique to reduce stress. By slowing your physical movement, even by a small fraction of your normal speed, you are more deliberate.

You avoid making mistakes like neglecting to notice hazards around you. You will notice yourself making fewer fumbling missteps that could end up the next viral video.

When you slow down your movements, you will then have more time to think. What is really happening is that by slowing your physical body, you give yourself more time to process incoming sensory information. Things that you didn’t pay attention to before become part of your awareness.

breathing

 

LEARN MORE EASILY AND HELP IMPROVE MENTAL PERFORMANCE

In a study of classroom teacher interactions in the Journal of Teacher Education, researchers found that teachers typically only wait one second after asking a question before providing an answer. When a student finishes speaking, the teacher also typically ask another question within less than one second.

The scientists were able to prove that extending the wait time between the teacher asking a student a question and expecting an answer gave several measurable benefits for students:

* Length of the responses increased between 300-700%

* Students had time to remember the facts that back up their answers

* Students made more guesses

* Students asked more questions

* Students proposed experiments to test theories

* Students discussed topics with each other

* There were fewer times when no one answered

* There was less need for discipline

* Students who never participated before began contributing

* Unsolicited participation increased

* Students reduced inflection, which is the rising vocal tone used when asking a question, in their answers, indicating increased confidence

Clearly the students felt like they would be listened to so they were more likely to speak up when the teacher slowed down to wait for answers.

Scientists noticed that teachers changed their actions with students in these ways:

* Teachers were more flexible with covering different discussion topics to encourage participation

* Teachers asked more and different questions

* Teachers had higher expectations for students

Although this study is about a classroom environment, you can imagine yourself as a student of the world slowing down to let your partner, coworkers, friends, and family think of their response to questions that you would ask them. You can also ask them to give you a moment before rushing ahead.

MULTI-TASKING MAKES YOUR BRAIN LESS CAPABLE

An Italian study at the University of Bologna found that mental resources are depleted or recovered depending on how much effort we spend making decisions on a project. We can’t keep working at maximum mental effort, because we use up the total amount of mental energy that we have.

The researchers showed that mental fatigue is real, and it is worse when we are under pressure to go fast. They say that multitasking, which is multi-decision-making, results in lower performance as well as reaching the threshold of mental fatigue ‘beyond which the worker cannot avoid being exhausted.’ They recommend taking a break or leaving the workspace until you can recover your mental energy.


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4 Science-Backed Tips For Achieving Your Dreams

by Dr. Emma Seppälä    February 9, 2016

Whether it’s New Year’s resolutions or any other milestone we want to achieve, most of us give up on that career goal, diet, mindfulness practice, or exercise regimen we committed to however long ago. All too often, our efforts fail, and we find ourselves unable to detach our backsides from the sofa and our hands from the chocolate.

There’s a scientific reason for this. You’ve basically got self-control fatigue. The good news, however, is that research also shows that keeping your resolution doesn’t have to be hard.

In a classic study by willpower psychologist Roy Baumeister, researchers baked chocolate chip cookies, filling their lab with a wonderful aroma. They then brought in research participants. Some participants were invited to eat the chocolate chip cookies and a bowl of chocolates laid out before them. Others were invited into the same delicious-smelling lab but told to eat the unappetizing radishes that were displayed right next to tempting cookies and chocolates.

Then both groups were given an exercise: to work on a puzzle that was, unbeknownst to them, unsolvable. The researchers found that participants who had exerted self-control by eating radishes and avoiding the tempting cookies and chocolates gave up trying to solve the puzzle much more quickly than those who had eaten the chocolates (or a control group that had not been shown the chocolates or radishes).

Why is this? Self-control actually exhausts us, it’s a limited resource like gasoline or the charge on your cellphone. The more you use it, the less you have it. Researchers have found that it literally depletes your blood sugar. Ever wondered why you are more likely to binge on ice cream at night? Self-control literally gets depleted as the day goes on

After all, we are using self-control all day long at work.

From dawn to dusk we do our best to:

1. Control our impulses.

This could mean staying on task as opposed to giving up or giving way to distractions (like checking Facebook) or temptations (like leaving work early to meet friends).

2. Control our performance.

This means persisting and giving your best despite feeling tired.

3. Control our behavior and emotions.

This could be maintaining a professional tone and demeanor even when the work atmosphere is unpleasant or your colleagues or managers make decisions you do not agree with.

4. Control our thoughts.

We fight to focus on our work despite the many daydreams, thoughts, and fantasies that pop into our minds.

focus

Here’s how to stop letting willpower fatigue get the best of you.

1. Remember, the morning is golden.

Self-control is stronger In the morning since you’ve had all night to replenish it. What does this mean?

If you are resolving to exercise more, do it in the morning.

If you are trying to stick to a diet, make your meals for the day, and make sure you throw everything that’s not on your diet out of the house.

If your goal is to write a book or finish a huge work project (or do your taxes early for once!), set aside the first hours of the day to do so.

2. Manage your energy by staying calmer.

Staying calm makes you powerful. Research shows that Americans prefer “high-intensity” emotions like excitement, or even stress. Think about it: people drink coffee and wait until the last minute to do things because they depend on adrenaline to get their work done. The consequence of both excitement and stress, however, is that they fatigue the body. And the more tired you are, the less self-control you have. So, you need to manage your energy.

You plug your cellphone in to charge it: Do the same thing with yourself. In particular, participate in activities that help you stay calm so you won’t get depleted so fast: yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises. Do this even if it means taking a break in the middle of the workday. Why? Research shows that when you do something liked meditation or prayer — even for a short while — it can fill your self-control tank back up.

3. Relax in other areas of your life.

Don’t make too many resolutions or try to exert self-control in too many new areas of your life at once. Keep things easy and relaxed in some domains (e.g., let the house be messy) so you’re not draining yourself by employing self-control in every aspect of your life and at all times of the day. Choose where self-control is important (e.g., at work) and give yourself some slack in the rest of your life.

4. Focus on the end goal.

As neuroscientist Elliott Berkman points out, “when you are working on things you really want to be working on, you are less likely to become depleted.” He argues that if you remember what the end goal of your resolution is — presumably — something you want, you can muster up the energy it takes to exert that self-control.

By following these tips, you’ll see that it is possible to keep you resolutions, to have more willpower, and to achieve your goals. So go ahead and make the most of those mornings, stay chill, cut yourself some slack, and keep your eyes on the prize.

Emma Seppälä is a psychologist and the Science Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford’s School of Medicine.  This article is excerpted from her just-published book “The Happiness Track: How to apply the science of happiness to accelerate your success,” published by HarperOne, 2016.


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Singletasking: 6 Keys To A Peaceful, Productive and Prosperous Life

Do you attempt to accomplish more by doing several things at once? In our culture of multitaskers, you’re unquestionably not alone.

But here’s a news flash if you haven’t already heard: Multitasking doesn’t work. In fact, it decreases your productivity by as much as 40%. Additionally, it lowers your IQ and shrinks your brain — reducing density in the region responsible for cognitive and emotional control.

Singletask your way to success.

Skeptical? Don’t be. Acclaimed researchers and neuroscientists around the world, including those at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of London, have plenty of proof.

Likewise, consider the personal, economic, and social toll of distracted driving. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 report they had read or sent text or email messages while driving within the last 30 days. Worse, a whopping 69% report they had talked on their cellphone.

So what’s our stressed-out society to do? Simple: singletask.

By singletasking you’ll be more productive and present. Plus like any other skill, singletasking can be learned or relearned over time. Soon enough you’ll be singletasking your way to success and sanity in your life, career, and relationships.

Here are six ways to get started:

1. Recognize that multitasking doesn’t exist.

Your brain is incapable of simultaneously processing separate streams of information from multiple tasks. That’s because there’s “interference” between the two tasks, says MIT’s Dr. Earl Miller. So, in actuality, multitasking is a myth. What you’re really doing is task-switching — moving rapidly and ineffectively between tasks.

multitasking

2. Develop a disciplined brain.

How often do you meet someone and instantly forget her name? Your mind was distracted, preoccupied with something else entirely. The inability to concentrate on a name or conversation is evidence of what I deem SBS — Scattered Brain Syndrome.

Singletasking isn’t only about getting things done. It’s also about developing focus and discipline. Living in the present will affect the very essence of everything that matters to you.

3. Create a distraction-free zone.

It’s up to you to control your environment — to “build fences” to keep potential distractions, such as noise and pop-ups, at bay. Rather than blame your technology or family, take control of your space and gadgets. For example, before a call with a loved one, close the door to the room you’re in, and mute all notification pings on your text messages and social media messaging.

4. Pick a place to park extraneous thoughts.

Singletasking doesn’t require you to discard distracting thoughts. Instead, it provides simple systems to set them aside until you can redirect your mind. One technique is to “park” other ideas in a designated spot, such as a notes page on your smartphone, and then quickly return to the current endeavor.

5. Do related tasks in clusters.

Does reading and replying to texts, emails, and social media messages lure you away from bigger, more important projects? Then practice clustertasking — a technique whereby you bunch related tasks into specific segments during the day. At the office, for instance, you could cluster your emailing to three segments daily — into arrival, lunch, and departure times.

6. Carve out regular quiet time.

In a noisy world with 24/7 news, you’re bombarded by distractions as, unfortunately, your brain becomes trained to avoid quiet reflection.

So next time you’re “busy” surfing the Web, ask yourself if you’re really just sidestepping solitude or introspection. And if that’s the case, resist that avoidance, and carve out a little time each day to be left alone with your thoughts.

Finally, singletasking obliges you to do one thing at a time, excluding any other demands at that moment. You can manage your next task after working on the existing one. You don’t have to complete every task all at once, just the current period of time dedicated to it. In other words, choose one task — and commit!


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A Helpful Guide to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
—Theodore Roosevelt

I’ve struggled with it most of my life. Typically, I blame it on having a twin brother who is five inches taller with much broader shoulders. But if I was being truly honest, more likely, it is simply a character flaw hidden somewhere deep in my heart.

I’ve lived most of my life comparing myself to others. At first, it was school and sports. But as I got older, I began comparing other metrics: job title, income level, house size, and worldly successes.

I have discovered there is an infinite number of categories upon which we can compare ourselves and an almost infinite number of people to compare ourselves to. Once we begin down that road, we never find an end.

The tendency to compare ourselves to others is as human as any other emotion. Certainly I’m not alone in my experience. But it is a decision that only steals joy from our lives. And it is a habit with numerous shortcomings:

  1. Comparisons are always unfair. We typically compare the worst we know of ourselves to the best we presume about others.
  2. Comparisons, by definition, require metrics. But only a fool believes every good thing can be counted (or measured).
  3. Comparisons rob us of precious time. We each get 86,400 seconds each day. And using even one to compare yourself or your accomplishments to another is one second too many.
  4. You are too unique to compare fairly. Your gifts and talents and successes and contributions and value are entirely unique to you and your purpose in this world. They can never be properly compared to anyone else.
  5. You have nothing to gain, but much to lose. For example: your pride, your dignity, your drive, and your passion.
  6. There is no end to the possible number of comparisons. The habit can never be overcome by attaining success. There will also be something—or someone—else to focus on.
  7. Comparison puts focus on the wrong person. You can control one life—yours. But when we constantly compare ourselves to others, we waste precious energy focusing on other peoples’ lives rather than our own.
  8. Comparisons often result in resentment. Resentment towards others and towards ourselves.
  9. Comparisons deprive us of joy. They add no value, meaning, or fulfillment to our lives. They only distract from it.

Indeed, the negative effects of comparisons are wide and far-reaching. Likely, you have experienced (or are experiencing) many of them first-hand in your life as well.

How then, might we break free from this habit of comparison? Consider, embrace, and proceed forward with the following steps.

A Practical Guide to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Take note of the foolish (and harmful) nature of comparison.

Take a good look at the list above. Take notice of comparison’s harmful effects in your life. And find priority to intentionally remove it from the inside-out.

greener

Become intimately aware of your own successes.

Whether you are a writer, musician, doctor, landscaper, mother, or student, you have a unique perspective backed by unique experiences and unique gifts. You have the capacity to love, serve, and contribute. You have everything you need to accomplish good in your little section of the world. With that opportunity squarely in front of you, become intimately aware of your past successes. And find motivation in them to pursue more.

Pursue the greater things in life.

Some of the greatest treasures in this world are hidden from sight: love, humility, empathy, selflessness, generosity. Among these higher pursuits, there is no measurement. Desire them above everything else and remove yourself entirely from society’s definition of success.

Compete less. Appreciate more.

There may be times when competition is appropriate, but life is not one of them. We have all been thrown together at this exact moment on this exact planet. And the sooner we stop competing against others to “win,” the faster we can start working together to figure it out. The first and most important step in overcoming the habit of competition is to routinely appreciate and compliment the contribution of others.

Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

Gratitude always forces us to recognize the good things we already have in our world.

Remind yourself nobody is perfect.

While focusing on the negatives is rarely as helpful as focusing on the positives, there is important space to be found remembering that nobody is perfect and nobody is living a painless life. Triumph requires an obstacle to be overcome. And everybody is suffering through their own, whether you are close enough to know it or not.

Take a walk.

Next time you find yourself comparing yourself to others, get up and change your surroundings. Go for a walk—even if only to the other side of the room. Allow the change in your surroundings to prompt change in your thinking.

Find inspiration without comparison.

Comparing our lives with others is foolish. But finding inspiration and learning from others is entirely wise. Work hard to learn the difference.

Humbly ask questions of the people you admire or read biographies as inspiration. But if comparison is a consistent tendency in your life, notice which attitudes prompt positive change and which result in negative influence.

If you need to compare, compare with yourself.

We ought to strive to be the best possible versions of ourselves—not only for our own selves, but for the benefit and contribution we can offer to others. Work hard to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Commit to growing a little bit each day. And learn to celebrate the little advancements you are making without comparing them to others.

With so many negative effects inherent in comparison, it is a shame we ever take part in it. But the struggle is real for most of us. Fortunately, it does not need to be. And the freedom found in comparing less is entirely worth the effort.

WRITTEN by JOSHUA BECKER


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5 Surprising Facts About Willpower

By Joy Manning    WebMD Feature   Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS

If only you had more willpower, you would easily stick to your diet or exercise program, right? Nope.

It turns out you need a lot more than willpower to do things like that. It’s not just about self-control. In fact, willpower might be the most misunderstood of virtues.

Once you get wise to how willpower works, you’ll know how to use it, why it can go off the rails, and how to get it back on track.

What Is Willpower?

The American Psychological Association calls willpower “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.”

Using willpower sometimes means not doing something, like skipping that second slice of cake you really want.

Or it may call for a delay, like having a cooling-off period before you buy something that wasn’t in your budget.

Willpower can also be about taking positive action, like working out as you had planned, though you really don’t feel like it.

These five truths about willpower will change how you think
about and use this inner resource to help meet your goals.

1. Your willpower is like a piggy bank.

Just like dollars in your bank account, your willpower is in limited supply. On any given day, you should budget your willpower so you have it when it counts.

For example, if you plan to hit the gym after work, pack a lunch. You may not have the wherewithal to resist pizza for lunch and also work out on your way home.

One thing can lead to another — in a good way. One of the best things about willpower, according to Marina Chaparro, RD, is that growing self-control in one area of your life leads to other positive changes.

“It changes the way you think. Once someone gets back to the gym, they may also start eating better,” Chaparro says.

Will-power

2. Your willpower is like a muscle.

“Many people think you’re either born with willpower or you’re not,” Chaparro says. “But that’s not true. It’s actually like a muscle you can strengthen over time.”

You work out your willpower a little differently than you exercise your abs, but both routines require doing it over and over.

Setting small, incremental goals that you regularly meet is the best way to boost your willpower. Much like with your body, if you overdo it by taking on a bigger challenge than you’re ready for, you won’t get stronger. You’ll just be sore.

3. Your feelings affect your willpower.

The connection between your emotions and your ability to turn down a cookie is not obvious, but it’s is definitely there.

A hard day at work can limit your ability to meet goals later in the day.

It’s not just feelings that affect willpower. Anything that involves a lot of thinking and decision-making will make you more vulnerable to temptation later on.

4. You need more than willpower.

Willpower matters, but you’ll also need other strategies to help you keep on track.

By its very nature, willpower is something that comes and goes. And it can be gone when you need it most.

One of the most effective tools you can have is known as “precommitting.” It’s a technique that takes willpower out of the equation. You scrub your environment of temptations you know are likely to test you.

An example of precommitting is getting rid of all your junk food and not buying any more when you are at the grocery store. A shopping list you stick to is another good habit that can supplement your willpower.

5. Willpower is a renewable resource.

You’re human. Just like everyone else, there will be times your willpower runs out. But it is possible to restore your supply.

Take time out for yourself as a way to recharge your willpower batteries. “If you get stressed, take a short walk,” Chaparro says.

She finds that the most rejuvenating “me time” is unstructured and offers freedom from your routine. Listening to music is another proven way to help restore your willpower.