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Willpower workout: how to motivate yourself to save
If you're lacking the motivation to save then this willpower workout could help you to tackle your financial problems.
by Michelle McGagh on Mar 22, 2012 at 08:00
Do you find that every month you make a resolution to save more, only to find yourself frittering money away by the end of the month? If so, you need a workout to build up your willpower!
A survey of 566 people by the American Psychological Association (APA) showed that 93% had vowed to change a behaviour this year, including losing weight, overhauling their lifestyle and saving more money.
A total of 52% of people wanted to save more money and 37% wanted to pay off more debt, but whether the goals were financial or health and lifestyle related, people consistently reported that they fell short of their goals because of a lack of willpower.
Some 27% of people reported that a lack of willpower prevented them from making the changes they wanted, and 26% blamed a lack of time.
It’s easy to blame a lack of willpower when we fail to make changes in our lives, but psychologists from the APA believe that you can build up your willpower as if it were a muscle, and regularly exerting self-control improves willpower over time.
And there is even more reason to work out your willpower muscles, as according to the report self-control is correlated with outcomes such as higher self-esteem, greater financial security and improved physical and mental health.
You wouldn’t run a marathon without any training. Instead, you'd build your distance up over time and at a steady pace; willpower is no different.
Social psychologists Steven Breckler and Norman Anderson, who is also chief executive and executive vice-president of the APA, set out a number of rules for building up willpower.
1. Don’t overstretch yourself
Exerting any muscle leaves it tired, so you should not overstretch your willpower. If you have already used your willpower to pay off your credit card debt instead of going shopping, do not then wander around the shops. Your willpower has already been exhausted, and you are more likely to give in to temptation.
‘Exercising your willpower in one situation may drain your self-control for other situations that immediately follow,’ Breckler said.
2. Focus on one goal at first
Trying to change too many of your habits all at once is a sure-fire way to drain your willpower. Focus on one realistic goal, achieve it and then set more goals. This way you won’t be overstretched.
Breckler said: ‘Just like with physical exercise, it is smart to avoid taking on too much at once. First focus on one goal, strengthen your willpower, and then take on more goals over time.’
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