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Reach Any Goal: How to Strengthen Your Willpower

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How to Stick to Your Goals

Make exercise automatic.

"Debating whether or not to work out takes a lot of mental energy," says Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. "But when it happens routinely, like taking a Spinning class every Tuesday and Thursday, and you don't have to think about it, it's not so taxing."

To start a new exercise habit, pick a time when you'll be able to work out consistently, like first thing in the morning. "Studies show that people who exercise regularly do it at the same hour every time," Duhigg says.

Also, build get-moving prompts into your day. If you go for a run right after waking up, "put your workout clothes near your bed, where you'll see them first thing," Duhigg suggests. Finally, give yourself a little reward every time you finish a workout. "Make sure it's something you genuinely enjoy," Duhigg says. That will trick your brain into associating the rush of pleasure that comes from a treat, like a coffee after your morning run, with exercise.

Stress less.

Nothing weakens your resolve or zaps your initiative like stress. "Researchers are just learning how stress is tied to self-control," Baumeister says. "Our best guess is that both things require the same amount of mental energy." So once you become stressed, your willpower goes right out the window.

To calm down and replenish your energy, go for a walk. "When stress hits, removing yourself from the situation even briefly helps," says Suzanne Steinbaum, an attending cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and the author of Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum's Heart Book. "By changing your environment, you help change your perception and recharge your batteries." If possible, go outside, she advises. Fresh air will help you relax and get back on track for success.

Follow your friends.

News flash: You're still susceptible to peer pressure. "We have evolved to unconsciously imitate those around us," says James Fowler, PhD, a professor of medical genetics and political science at the University of California, San Diego, and a coauthor of Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives.

Research found that if the person sitting next to us eats a lot, we're more likely to overindulge as well. Even pals who live hundreds of miles away can affect our habits. "Friends share information about behavior on Facebook and Twitter," Fowler notes. Similarly, our buds can get us excited about exercise. "If your friend takes up running and says, 'Hey! I've got more energy,' it may encourage you to start, too," Fowler says.

Schedule workouts and healthy meals with your fit pals on a regular basis. Making the commitment to get and stay in shape together will help build your willpower and keep you motivated to reach the finish line.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, January 2013.

 

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elizabeth86673 wrote:

Thank goodness someone brings clarity to the willpower question. Even my fitness trainer mentioned the term willpower as though it was something you either have or don't have and I told her I have it, just don't always use it :) Now I know how to maximize it and have an easier time with fewer decisions. I also find saying "no" to requests that you either don't have or don't want to do is important as far as lowering stress.

2/4/2014 12:04:54 PM Report Abuse
ysoleman wrote:

You have written a summary of a very important topic in very factual and also very practical ways. From Indonesia I would like to deeply thank to MAURA KELLY for sharing this very nice article. Please allow me to give an A+ or 10 to your summary. GBU.

1/20/2014 09:58:30 PM Report Abuse
ysoleman wrote:

You have written a summary of a very important topic in a very factual and also very practical ways. From Indonesia I would like to deeply thank to MAURA KELLY for sharing this very good article. Please allow me to give you an A+ or 10 to your summary. GBU.

1/20/2014 09:39:33 PM Report Abuse
LOUIS STOICO JR wrote:

great

1/1/2014 10:21:10 AM Report Abuse
mihiraranjanmahatantila wrote:

it's great.please continue for the benefit of all. ranjan from srilanka.

5/2/2013 07:10:20 AM Report Abuse

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