“Willpower” tends to evoke images of gritted teeth and of white knuckling your way through a difficult process. And it’s true that willpower is hard. It means standing in the face of temptation and not allowing yourself to give in. So what if I told you there was a way to make it easier? What if you only needed willpower for a few hours each week instead of 24/7?
This “willpower hacking” is simple: you limit your exposure to temptation. In terms of eating better, this might look like making sure you only buy healthy food at the store. For example: if you’re trying to eat healthy and you have a dozen delicious chocolate chip cookies sitting in your kitchen, you’re going to be tempted every time you walk by. It’s going to be easier to give into that 10pm craving, and your willpower is going to have to be on high all day long. Alternatively, you could simply make a point of not buying cookies at the store. Then you only need strong willpower for the hour or two you spend grocery shopping. That’s a lot easier than trying to resist during every waking minute you spend at home.
Similarly, eating lunch in the food court at work could mean putting yourself in front of a greasy slice of pizza every day. It’ll be difficult to pick the healthy option when you can smell the pizza cooking and you’re already hungry. The solution? Pack a healthy lunch the night before, when you’re feeling full and satisfied from dinner. Then instead of visiting the food court, you can just remind yourself that you already have a lunch to eat.
Limiting your exposure to things that throw you off track can help you make progress without all the white knuckles and gritted teeth, so go ahead and give willpower hacking a try! After all, why wouldn’t you want to make it easier to eat better?