In order to achieve your willpower goal…
What do you need to say Yes to?
What do you need say No to?
Answering these questions will help you identify your decision points.
If your willpower goal is eating more fruits and vegetables, you might write
– “I need to say Yes to buying salad ingredients at the supermarket.”
– “I need to say No to eating lunch for 2 or more consecutive days at places that do not serve fruits and vegetables (e.g., the Donut cart)”
– “I need to say Yes to preparing my lunch after cleaning up the dinner dishes”
If your willpower goal is improving your relationship, you might write
– “I need to say Yes to doing my share of the household chores”
– “I need to say No to being on my computer after 10pm”
– “I need to say Yes to Connecting Time after 10pm.”
The above can help you identify potential times of low willpower. You’ll need to identify alternative coping to deal with these.
In addition, given that decision making itself uses up willpower, you’ll want to reduce decision making as much as possible. For example, having a bedtime routine means you won’t need to make completely new decisions each night. Or, having a shopping list of salad ingredients will help reduce decision making about what you need to buy. Or, having a babysitter regularly booked will help reduce the decision making necessary to go out. Having a day of the week when you do eat a donut for lunch will reduce decision making about which days you’re not going to do that.
What’s one routine you’d be happy to implement that would reduce willpower drain from decision making?
Lastly, write yourself a card or a post it note that states the main positive benefit (e.g., greater well-being) you hope to experience as a result of achieving your willpower goal. Put this somewhere you’re see it near the beginning of each day. You can copy this from yesterday’s exercise.
If all this feels too hard to do on your own
Book an appointment with a psychology PhD and identify the Yes and No decisions involved in your willpower goal together.