Many people believe that they can improve their lives if only they had more of that mysterious thing called willpower. With this will power we will have more self-control. We would all eat right, exercise regularly, avoid drugs and alcohol, stop procrastinating, and achieve all sorts of noble goals. Will power is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.
In recent years, scientists have made some compelling discoveries about the ways that the will power works. It isn’t just some storybook concept; it’s a measurable form of mental energy that runs out as you use it, much like a gas in your car.
A psychologist at Florida State University conducted an experiment. He had a group of student sit next to a plate of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. Some were allowed to snack away, others were ordered to abstain. Afterwards, both groups were asked to complete difficult puzzles. The students who abstain from eating cookies had so depleted their reserves for self-control that they gave up quickly. On the other hand the cookie eaters had conserved the willpower and work on the puzzles longer. This shows that if we constantly challenge our self-control, our willpower runs out.
Our willpower is a finite resource, we must use it wisely. People with best self-control aren’t the ones who use it all day long. They are people who structure their daily routine such a way that they can conserve will power. For example, not keeping cookie jar in plain sight. That way you will be able to amass vast reserve for you when you really need it, like getting your lazy ass to the gym.