A good dose of willpower is often necessary to see any task through, whether it’s sticking to a spending plan or finishing that great American novel.
And if you want to increase that willpower, you just simply have to believe you have it, suggests a new study supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.
“What matters most is what we think about our willpower,” leader study author Christopher Napolitano, educational psychology professor at the University of Illinois told the University of Illinois News Bureau. “When we view our willpower as limited, it’s similar to a muscle that gets tired and needs rest. If we believe it is a finite resource, we act that way, feeling exhausted and needing breaks between demanding mental tasks, while people who view their willpower as a limitless resource get energized instead.”
Napolitano and study co-author Veronika Job of the University of Zurich tested the validity of the Implicit Theory of Willpower for Strenuous Mental Activities Scale, a psychological assessment tool. They asked 1,100 Americans and 1,600 Europeans to weigh in on statements such as, “After a strenuous mental activity, your energy is depleted, and you must rest to get it refueled again.”
Although there was little difference between men and women overall, Americans were more likely to admit to needing breaks after completing mentally challenging tasks, while European participants became more invigorated to keep going.
Based on the findings, Napoitano suggests that the key to amp up your willpower is to believe that you have an abundant supply of it.
“Your feelings about your willpower affect the way you behave—but these feelings are changeable,” he said. “Changing your beliefs about the nature of your self-control can have positive effects on development, leading to healthier behaviors and perceptions of others.”
Now that you have the drive, make sure you have the other winning attributes all successful people have in common.