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  • Writer's pictureJo Leccacorvi

The problem with willpower

How often have you said that you ‘lack willpower’? If only you had more willpower, you could resist the chocolate conveniently placed by the checkout in the supermarket, or you could get up earlier in the morning to fit in your exercise.

How often do you feel you’ve let yourself down because in your eyes your willpower wasn’t strong enough? This can lead to feelings of guilt and shame because once again you couldn’t resist the temping lure of something you ‘shouldn’t’ be eating.

Have you ever considered it isn’t you and your lack of willpower that is the issue?

Willpower is overrated

Willpower alone is not going to help you achieve your goals or stop you from buying that chocolate bar while you wait to pay for your weekly shop. But why?

Do you know what you want?

Maybe the reason your willpower waivers when you spy some chocolate is you’re not clear on what you really want? You know you want to be healthy and eat less of the sweet stuff, but are you completely clear on how you get there? If you’re not, then you may have some sort of internal conflict and you end up ‘giving into your craving’ and this is when you start to experience those feelings of guilt and shame. This may turn into a vicious circle as you end up on a merry-go-round of setting out to have the resolve and be strong willed, but because you’re not completely clear on what you want the internal conflict starts and you end up eating the chocolate and the cycle goes on.

Where you’re at now

It is always good to take a moment and reflect where you are currently. Your goal might be to reduce your sugar cravings but take a pause and think about how things are for you right now, what is the impact of this, if you change what will be the positive impact of this, and what will happen if you don’t change? Asking yourself these questions may help you start a shift in the way you think about your goal and how you will achieve it.


Now that you are aware of your current situation, take a moment to think about the reasons why you want to reduce your sugar cravings? Is it because you want to be healthy? Or is it because you feel stuck? Once you know the reason why you want to achieve your goal, get a pen and write down the answers to these questions:

1. Why do you to be healthy?

2. How will this benefit you?

3. How will this benefit your relationship with others?


Your goal is to reduce your sugar cravings, you’ve reflected on your current situation, and you’ve noted down the reasons why you want to reduce your cravings. Now it is time to think about what barriers there might be to stop you achieving your goal. What will stop you? What challenges will you face? What else could get in the way?

Now that you’ve identified your potential barriers, make a note of how you will overcome these. What preparations could you make to overcome your barriers? Once you have done this, ask yourself ‘what else?’ and see there are any other solutions that come up for you.

Take action

This is the most important part of your goal, what action will you take today to achieve your goal? Create a plan of how you will achieve your goal, make a note of:

1. What commitments you will make?

2. What approaches could you take?

3. What do you think will work best for you?

4. When will you do it?

5. How motivated are you?

6. How committed are you?

Next time you feel like you’ve ‘given into’ your craving, please be kind to yourself and remember willpower alone is not enough to help you achieve your goal. Remember, it isn’t about your lack of willpower, take the time to think about the why and the how.

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