Over last few months, I have been trying to install a few fundamentally-new habits for myself, mainly related to health, fitness and reading. And this has led to an important realization — willpower is a ‘reservoir’! What does this mean?
- Installing a new habit depletes willpower — as you push yourself to learn a new skill, start a new ritual or basically do anything you aren’t used to, it requires a major dip into the willpower reservoir. And each such dip ends up depleting the reservoir…every single day you push yourself till the habit becomes second nature.
- Focus is important to optimize willpower usage — given the reservoir is of finite capacity at any point in time, you can only take so many dips before depleting it to a critical level. This makes focus really important. Focusing on utilizing every ounce of this willpower just on a few, really important habits/ skills/ rituals/ initiatives, ensures you get maximum long term returns. So, if you are planning to start getting up early AND start working out AND start eating more greens AND start networking more aggressively AND start spending more quality time with family, you will exhaust your willpower reservoir very soon. Choose only 1–2 at a time, choose carefully and choose wisely!
- Take rest to replenish — as your willpower reservoir gets depleted, take rest to replenish it. Our generation is almost programmed to keep pushing ourselves relentlessly and keep moving from one goal to the next. As you achieve a milestone, take a break. Give yourself a pat on the back for learning something new, and let the willpower reservoir fill up again before taking on the next goal.
- Willpower capacity can be increased via practice — interestingly, the reservoir can be expanded. It’s like a muscle. As you install more new habits, while the contents get depleted, the reservoir capacity itself increases. So the next time you take a break after achieving your goal, you will end up with more willpower than before. Isn’t that cool?
Here’s wishing you an ever-expanding willpower reservoir!