Science the s*** out of your goals

If you really want to succeed with your goals realise that you are at the mercy of your own far-sighted planner and your own ‘myopic’ doer. The planner is reflective and the doer is impulsive. Thaler & Sunstein (2008) describe these two ends of your will power spectrum as your Mr Spock and your Homer Simpson. Memorable metaphors!

To succeed, the challenge is to beat Homer! Try these tips from Kelly McGonigal’s book The Willpower Instinct:

1 Focus on the why. Concentrating on the future payoff of your long-term goals renews your willpower to reach them.

2 Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation messes with your prefrontal cortex, increasing impulsivity and sugar craving.

3 Take care of yourself. Meditation, exercise, and healthy relationships strengthen your body, mind, and willpower.

4 Don’t berate yourself when you slip up. Chiding yourself will only make you more likely give in to temptation again.

5 Hang out with people who have the same goals. Both willpower and a lack of self-control are contagious.

6 Beware of stress. Pressure moves you into fight-or-flight mode, which takes your mind off long-term planning.

7 Don’t think of exerting willpower as good. You are either moving closer or further away from where you want to be.

8 Ride your mind’s waves. Accepting unwanted thoughts makes them pass more quickly than fighting against them.

9 Wait 10 minutes. During a strong craving, this break returns power to your brain’s temptation resistance center.

10 Do it today. It’s easy to think you’ll have more time and less stress tomorrow. You won’t. So start now.