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Willpower is the art of doing what you say you will do.

There are two parts to this.

1) Say you will do something. (Set a goal).

2) Do it.

This sounds easy, but it is only easy if your goal is easy.  You need to set goals that will not give you too much trouble.  Why?

Every time you set a goal, you are setting a precedent for yourself: 

- SUCCESS: If you say you “I will do it” and you do, you gain confidence in your willpower.

- FAILURE: If you do not do it, the act of saying “I will do it” loses its meaning.   The next time you say “I will do it”, you will doubt yourself because you failed last time.

So, to increase your willpower:

            1) Set goals that are easy to accomplish.

a) Split up larger goals into smaller, more achievable goals.  Don’t say “I will get my novel published.”  Say “I will look for a good publisher to send it to.”

b) Limit the time period to the near future.  Don’t say “I will not eat junk food this month.”  Say “I will not eat junk food for dinner.”

c) Know yourself.  If you never go to the gym, say “I will park in the gym parking lot,” instead of “I will work out an hour.”  Take your history and attitude into consideration: set goals that don’t make you groan.  You’re much more likely to do them if you don’t dread them.

d) Set positive goals instead of negative goals.  Say “I will drink water” instead of  “I will not drink coke.” When will tell ourselves not to do something, we reinforce our desire for the thing and take control away from ourselves.  When we tell ourselves to do the better thing, we remind ourselves why we should and give ourselves control.

2) Accomplish your goals.

a) Write your goals down in a list and check them off when done.  Review them regularly.  If you have a lot of goals, make a “Current List” and a “Later List.”

b) Pick one or two goals at a time to focus on so you don’t overwhelm yourself. 

c) Don’t dread the goal.  Just do it.  Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.  If you make yourself start, though, you will build up momentum and find it hard to stop.  (Tell yourself you will just do it for one minute.  You will end up doing it for at least ten minutes.)

d) When you fail, try to figure out why so you won’t fail next time.  Was the goal too hard?  Did your emotions or cravings get in the way?  Did you lose faith that you could do it?  Were you overwhelmed by too much going on?

e) If you do not have the ability to accomplish your goals, build your ability and try again later.  Repeat.  If it seems too difficult, you may be chasing the wrong goal—or you may have underestimated the effort required.


Willpower is perhaps the single most important quality a person can have.  An ordinary person with great willpower can exceed a genius who does nothing.  We should recognize its power and constantly practice it.  The great thing about practicing willpower is that it also helps us accomplish our goals and strengthens us as people.

Remember: accomplishing small goals will get you there faster than failing hard goals.

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