Willpower is Not a Finite Resource

The idea that willpower is a finite resource quickly depleted is wrong, according to a study out of Stanford University. Belief in one's own willpower makes it a stable fixture.

What's the Latest Development?


New analysis seems to overturn the now-popular notion that willpower is a finite resource, scarce and subject to rapid depletion. Instead, according to a 2010 study at Stanford University, belief in your own willpower makes it a stable fixture. In the study, "only people who believed that willpower was limited (according to an initial questionnaire) showed evidence of depleted willpower in tests of self-control given after a mentally challenging lab task. Subjects who believed that willpower was unlimited did just as well on follow-up self-control tasks as control subjects facing the task fresh."

What's the Big Idea?

While the tradition of making resolutions for the new year marks an obvious need for a little extra willpower, understanding how belief bolsters our ability to achieve our goals is an important life lesson. "Give yourself reasons to believe, despite the sorry statistics and even your own track record. Think back on the many challenges you have mastered, especially when you stumbled along the way. If your goal is important enough to you, chances are you can achieve it, and a little more faith in your willpower could help." 

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