Willpower: what prevents us to achieve goals

Willpower: what prevents us to achieve goals

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Modern lifestyle adversely affect the ability to self-control: stimuli and distractions weakened willpower. Professor at the Higher School of Business at Stanford University Shiv Baba (Baba Shiv) showed that people who are distracted, much easier to give in to temptation.

Buyers, abstract music and bright banners in the stores, and actively participate in special promotions, and often come home from unnecessary purchases. We are accustomed to consider as the willpower trait: either it is or it is not. Researchers disprove this myth. Lecturer at Stanford University Kelly McGonigal (Kelly McGonigal) in the book "Willpower. How to develop and strengthen "reveals the relationship between physiological processes and self-control.


Physical activity often drops out of the list of priorities. Caring for the health of future pales when confronted with urgent matters that require attention right now. We forget that physical activity supports the health of not only the body but also the brain. Outen psychologist Megan (Megan Oaten) and biologist Ken Chang (Ken Cheng) from Macquarie University in Sydney presented the participants of the experiment passes to a fitness club.

After two months of training volunteers reinforced the concentration and the ability to ignore distractions. They also reduced their consumption of alcohol, caffeine and fast food, steel watch less TV, less likely to be late for a meeting, and save more money.

Willpower: what prevents us to achieve goals

PHOTOS Konstantin Ameline

The effect of motor activity is obvious, but when you're passionate about a career or developing their own business, work displaces workout. But experience shows successful businessmen - the training is as important as working hours. Oleg Tinkoff summer rides a bike in the winter skier and is engaged daily in the gym. Businessman recognized - his best ideas were born while he pedaled. Kelly McGonigal says, is not necessarily a clock to pace yourself in the gym. Usable is any activity related to movement - a walk around the block, gardening, dancing, yoga, swimming, playing with children or animals, the active cleaning or shopping.


The second threat to self - lack of sleep. Chronic lack of sleep makes us more vulnerable to stress and temptation, it becomes more difficult to control the emotions and focus. We do what we should not be, and should be done, on the contrary, has been postponed. The reason is glucose - the main source of energy for the brain and body.

Willpower: what prevents us to achieve goals

PHOTO Konstantin Ameline

. In 2005, a group of scientists from the School of Medicine at Boston University under the direction of Daniel J. Gottlieb (Daniel J. Gottlieb) found out - lack of sleep disrupts the assimilation of glucose up to increase the risk of diabetes. When we sleep little, bad cells absorb glucose from the blood - we feel overwhelmed and absorbed sweets and coffee. But even the "charging" does not help the body to use energy efficiently.

The main self-control center - prefrontal cortex - is facing an energy crisis. The brain loses its ability to effectively manage impulses and emotions. The body is stuck in a state of "fight or flight" and we begin to overreact to any stimuli.

The problem of lack of sleep is particularly relevant for members of the business community - increasing volume of tasks leaves less time for sleep. In addition, many businesses find that a lot of sleep - shame. President of Yahoo! Marissa Mayer is sleeping 4-6 hours a night, the same number of hours of sleep is the founder of Twitter Jack Dorsey. American billionaire and presidential candidate Donald Trump sleeps only 3-4 hours a day and calls to follow his example. Good news - the negative effects of sleep deprivation are reversible. If you can not sleep 8 hours every night, Kelly McGonigal offers three options: get enough sleep for the future, some sleep on the weekends, or allow yourself to day dream.


The human brain is formed under conditions of uncertainty: our ancestors pursued risk of starvation. Lifestyle has changed dramatically, and our brains are not. He still uses the blood sugar levels to assess - in an excess of food, or lack of.

Psychology professor Robert D. Dvorak (Robert D Dvorak) from the University of North Dakota, and Xiao Wang from the University of South Dakota in 2010 proved that the blood sugar level influences the choice between an immediate reward and a large fine, but delayed in time. When a person for some time do not eat, your blood sugar drops. The brain receives the signal - to urgently find something to eat. To escape from hunger, the brain switches to impulsive state, prone to risk.

With limited resources, this mechanism was very important: people who quickly follow his impulses and instincts, had a better chance of survival.

Willpower: what prevents us to achieve goals

PHOTO Konstantin Ameline

In today's world, it creates problems. The fall in blood sugar no longer indicates that we are threatened with starvation, and an urgent need to pass on their genes to offspring, but the brain as before, switch to short-term planning mode. In this state, he is not able to make the right decisions, the corresponding long-term goals. For the sphere of business and management is an additional risk factor.

Job and business leaders associated with intense mental stress, which leads to the active spending of glucose. The fall of blood sugar can lead to impulsive behavior and making wrong management decisions. It would seem that in order to maintain self-control at the highest level is sufficient to consume more sweet. Indeed, sugar dose can temporarily strengthen willpower in an emergency. But in the long run, this strategy destroys self-control. A sharp surge in blood sugar followed by a sharp drop due eaten chocolate bar.

Kelly McGonigal offers not abuse the sweet and to focus on the food, which provides a stable blood sugar levels: low-fat protein, nuts, legumes, cereals with high fiber content, most fruits and vegetables.

Stress Management

We use stress for motivation - postponing work until the deadline or criticize ourselves for laziness and sluggishness. We are also trying to control others - aggravate the situation at home or at work. In the short term, the approach seems to be effective, but in the long - nothing undermines willpower as stress.

Willpower: what prevents us to achieve goals

PHOTO Konstantin Ameline

Mechanisms of stress and self-incompatible. Stress plunges us into a state of "fight or flight", while for self-control necessary to stop and think.

Stress causes the focus on short-term goals and a quick result, and for self-control to keep the bigger picture in mind.

In 2011, German researchers from the Ruhr University found: stress hormone causes people to follow undesirable, but their familiar behavior and prevent the adoption of balanced decisions.

Everything that has a stressful effect on the mind and body, can undermine the power of the will. Anger, anxiety, depression, loneliness and chronic diseases lead to the self-reduction.

Stress - a scourge of business owners and managers. According to the Medical Center of the Russian Presidential Administration, for the way of life of the Russian businessman is typical chronic stress, overexertion, as well as violation of work and rest. Kelly McGonigal offers de-stress methods such as meetings with family and friends, outdoor recreation, meditation and spiritual practices.

We strengthen self-control

There are various techniques to strengthen willpower, including mental and spiritual. But at the heart of self-control is physiology.

It is unlikely that someone will install new software on old computers. Similarly, you should treat your body: before "overbuild" on his new techniques and methods, it is important to ensure that it is in itself works well.

Identify problem areas. A sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep, bad snacks, chronic stress - find out what this is typical for you and how you can improve your quality of life.

to allocate resources. Take the time and resources invested in your body - treat them as long-term investments, not only in their own health, but also in the professional growth.

to a new level. When you adapt to the way of life, contribute to the development of self-control, you can take the next step - to start working with traps our thinking.

Read more on the website "Big Plans".