Willpower: Not the Solution to Your Resolution


As the new year begins, you may be wrestling with one or two New Year resolutions you’d genuinely like to accomplish in 2011. Like millions of other Americans, you will likely prep by supercharging your willpower to psyche yourself up for the task at hand. But it’s no secret that most of the resolutions quickly fall by the wayside.

Willpower isn’t the key. So what is?
The Wall Street Journal reported on the topic that willpower, or the “power to will,” originates in our prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain responsible for making decisions. When this region of our brain becomes over-worked by the everyday events of life, we often give-in to the emotional desire for instant gratification, usually at the expense of a New Year’s resolution.

As the article details, willpower will only temporarily fuel your New Year’s resolution. To give your resolution a real run for its money, consider the following three tips:

Emotional Rewards
Whether you’re looking to decrease your debt, kick smoking, or learn a language, you should bate the hook by visualizing yourself both reaping the benefits of your future accomplishment as well as what will happen if you don’t succeed. In your mind, paint yourself a “destination postcard,” a picture of what it will look like when you achieve your goal. This approach will orient your positive and negative emotions in the right direction and continually propel you toward success.

Breaking a bad habit or starting a good one doesn’t come easy. Depending on your resolution, you should fortify yourself with plans and tools that make achieving your resolution realistic. This may mean purchasing a shredder if your goal is to organize your office or a weight set if you’re looking to build muscle. Planning ahead will help to reduce resistance when the task is at hand. Convenience is key…you’ll need tools at your fingertips for a chance at success.

Sharing your resolution with a good friend or sibling is crucial to your resolution’s performance in 2011. You may also consider a calendar or notebook dedicated to tracking your workouts and weigh-ins, mistakes and triumphs, and your wins and losses. This will give you a ruler by which to measure your progress and to ensure you’re continuously rewarded for the incremental successes you can often overlook. Payoff’s badges are handy for this purpose as well.