One fact overrides all others when discussing will power: it’s a finite resource.
We like to think that having strong will power means we’re in the clear. Life will throw temptations our way, but we’ll be resolute and stand against them as an outcome of our personality.
Instead, will power is a mental strength, and just like with a physical strength, it can be exhausted. A variety of independent research studies has shown that decision-making, controlling emotions and thoughts, doing things that you don’t enjoy, and other such activities drain will power. No matter how much you start with, faced with enough of such things, your will power will eventually run out.
Foster Your Will Power
Now that you know will power is a reservoir of energy that needs to refilled and never over-drained, you can perform tasks that will keep your will power topped up.
Pay Attention to the Physical
As we’ve discussed, mental power is bolstered by a healthy body. Eat right, exercise, take care of yourself, and sleep soundly. Make caring for your body a part of your daily routine. Do it automatically and faithfully. Yes, this will expend a measure of will power, especially in the beginning, but you will get back much more strength than you expend.
Because we’ve already discussed diet and exercise in detail, I’ll use this space to stress the issue of fatigue. Having a tired body automatically means having a tired mind. Chronic lack of rest and sleep can lead to becoming mentally dysfunctional.
Complicating things, while the human body tends to react in predictable ways to diet and exercise guidelines, problems with sleep are much more varied and often quite personal. Use the internet and other resources to learn more about your sleep issues, and see your doctor as needed.
Organize Your Environment
The body houses the mind, and your home and office house your body as it goes through your life’s daily business. Much as your body lends strength to your mind, your environment supports your life routines.
The first, most obvious way to get your environment in order is to organize. When your surroundings are in chaos, you expend untold time looking for things you need, being obstructed by things you don’t need, and even drowning in things you neither need nor want.
In 2014, Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up became a worldwide bestseller. Why? Kondo says only to keep what brings us joy, and joy replenishes will power.
Yes, at first the concept sounds silly. And, of course, you must not apply joy to the things you are obligated to keep, like tax records and insurance forms. But when there is an option, purge yourself of things that mean nothing to you emotionally: presents you don’t like, old things that may be valuable one day (They probably won’t.), and things you feel cost too much to toss even though you hate them now.
Items of sentimental value should be sorted through last. At this point you will have some momentum as you discover the joy of simplifying your life—something we’ll discuss more in another post—and you’ll be better at figuring out what brings you joy and what is only supposed to bring you joy but doesn’t.
Once you’ve done this, you’re ready for the big picture and can move from organizing your life to simplifying your life.