Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Willpower

Cookie Monster

Sure you can Cookie Monster, you just need to use your willpower!

Willpower is that magical word that we are all told is the basis of good behaviour with our diets. We can cut out the chips, pizza or cookies by strengthening our willpower. If that was the reality of the situation then sticking to a good diet would be far easier. What makes us “break” and lose our desire to maintain a healthy diet?

We often fail on big commitments, such as diet, that rely on willpower because:

  • Some of us try to introduce too much change all at once.
  • Others never create a solid action plan to work from in the first place.
  • Yet others fail to address life patterns that reinforce old habits.


We just misunderstand willpower

Often we resort to willpower as our go-to method of implementing change. We might say something like this:

“Wake up, willpower, I’ve got a bunch of jobs for you! First I need you to get me out of bed at 5:30am. Then you’ve got to get me out the door for a run. Also, don’t let me eat any sugar today. And while you’re at it, help me keep my mouth shut the next time my Big Bird says something stupid.”

Willpower often goes by many different names:

Don’t they all sound great? All of them have at their core the idea of resisting something that you really want to do. Ultimately this is what willpower is – the ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals. There are studies that suggest that willpower is a limited resource and that it can run out.

So what can we do to stop relying on willpower? The language we use can have a strong influence on what we do. Reframing your situation can help. For example:

Sometimes, working on a strenuous mental task makes me feel energised for further challenging activities

or put your own spin on it

Following through on my new habits makes me feel like a rockstar who’s capable of anything

Willpower is best used in conjunction with a hefty dose of self-compassion, positive self-talk, and social support.

If you would like to learn how to create a solid action plan, introduce easy changes to your diet and address negative life patterns, then why not come reserve your space at our latest FREE workshop. Click on the image below, places are limited!