Four Things That Undermine Your Willpower
How to eliminate what is getting in the way of your willpower
Posted Aug 01, 2012
4. Rationalization and Bargaining—This one can be the trickiest to overcome. We tell ourselves our best lies. And we are the biggest believers of our own BS. I mentioned above that willpower is when the immediate pleasure is in competition with a long-term consequence. We use rationalization to talk ourselves out of that being the current state. We argue that there will be no negative long-term consequence so there is no need to resist the current temptation. What is one doughnut? A few drinks isn’t going to hurt anything! I’m not suggesting you live a life that is lacking in indulgences, but be careful that rationalization can be used at too many decision points, slowly eroding your ability to ever resist. Bargaining works the same way. We strike a deal with ourselves that we will work to offset the consequences later. "I’m going to eat and drink too much tonight, but it will be ok because I’m going to workout extra this weekend." If you find yourself often promising to clean up your messes later, you are bargaining. The problem is that "later” is also filled with temptations. The messes compound and the time to clean them up just never comes. I recommend paying all debts in advance. If you know you are going to consume 1,000 more calories at dinner than usual, make a plan to have accounted for it before the time comes (a reasonable plan that involves both exercise and diet, not by starving yourself in advance). By planning in advance, there is no issue of willpower, no need to bargain, and no mess to clean up. The good news is that each and every one of us has control over our willpower—if we want it. Take control of your willpower or else it may take control of you.