Did you know that the more decisions you make in a day the more you drain your willpower? According to new research our willpower apparently operates pretty much like a battery. When we have used up a certain amount our willpower battery needs re-charging. If our battery is running low we generally will either go for the easiest option or stop making decisions altogether.
Isn’t this fascinating? I find it hugely so. It explains some of my more erratic or irrational decisions. (Some but not all, I’m sure!) And it goes some way to explain why I so easily give in to temptation – especially at the end of the day. Knowing this allows me to acknowledge that I am not simply someone with very little willpower. It means that when I find myself especially reluctant to decide or just purely go for the easy way out, my battery may be in need of re-charging. I am not simply of a weak nature. (Deep sighs of relief.)
How can this knowledge be useful going forward?
- If you are planning to make changes in your life, consider the amount of willpower will be required. Make sure to break your plans into manageable “chunks”, so your battery doesn’t run flat.
- Create habits. If something is a habit for you, you eliminate having to make decisions and therefore consume less of your willpower energy.
- Plan your time. Don’t schedule “important decision making sessions” at work, at home or with yourself at the end of a long day.
Much more information about how these findings came about and how it impacts on dieters, poor people, whether you make parole and how you may end up paying extra for features you don’t really care about can be found in this very interesting article in the: New York Times
Thanks to Ian McDermott from ITS and professor of Neuroscience Patricia Riddell for a very inspiring seminar introducing this fascinating topic.