5 Essential Ways Everyone Should Hack Their Willpower

Let’s be real. Willpower is a hard thing to learn. And, now that summer is over, our drive to stay fit for the beach has started waning. As the beautiful leaves start turning and fall rolls in, it feels really nice to start wearing pants again and hiding behind sweaters. On the contrary, though, this is the very moment to dig deep and keep on working toward a healthier lifestyle.

Feeling awesome doesn’t just serve us in the summer. It serves us for the entire year, for our entire lives.

In my experience, willpower and brainpower are both like batteries — they have a finite limit of use for each day. The best way to have more willpower and more brainpower is to find some useful ways to hack them!

Check out some ways you can use this moment to hack your willpower and start feeling more awesome today.

1. Set up reminders

Each and every day is different, but our goals don’t have to be. The problem with hectic days, though, is that our goals and projects sometimes get hidden behind all of the to-do’s and busy meetings.

In my experience, there are a few easy ways to remember what’s truly important and what I truly want to work on. When the going gets tough, help yourself out by setting up some reminders. That way, you know you’ll remember what’s important when you really need it.

Technology tools help keep what’s important top of mind. (Check out apps like Tasker on Android, Reminders on iPhone or Things on Mac.) Here are a few ways I use these tools to provide me with important reminders:

  • Gratitude journals go a long way to remind you to take a moment and jot down what you are grateful for. If I can’t remember to make time to do this, I’ll have a mobile app remind me.
  • Drinking more water is crucial to getting healthier and feeling better. If I can’t remember to do this, I’ll have a mobile app remind me.
  • Leaving work to hit the gym isn’t an easy thing to do. If I can’t muster the energy to do this, I’ll have a mobile app remind me to play extra-fun music on the drive over.
  • Catching up with long-lost friends is the last thing on my to-do list, but it always makes me feel so awesome after I’ve done it. If I can’t remember to do this, I’ll have a mobile app remind me of who I’m losing touch with.

2. Put it in your calendar

There is no such thing as “I have no time for ______.” Whatever you can’t find time for probably isn’t too time-consuming — and it’s also not a priority. You know what? It probably should be a priority, starting now.

When I complain about my lack of time or how tired I feel, I sit down and re-evaluate my calendar. Just like we imagined willpower being a battery, it’s also a battery that is completely affected by energy levels. Feeling tired is terrible for my willpower! Once I sit down with my calendar, I make sure that I have scheduled in time to do all the things I love. Here are a few ways I do that:

  • Morning time is my fitness time. It’s important to me to get my workout in before breakfast, so I make sure to not set any meetings before 9AM. (This also helps me make sure I’m getting enough exercise in each week — and then I never have to worry about it again.)
  • Meeting up with friends makes me feel much more relaxed and awesome, so I schedule in some time for lunch or coffee with a few of my closest friends or family.
  • Finding the time to read is tough when there is so much going on — but it’s important to me. I put it in the calendar, and I don’t miss a reading date.

3. Bet money that you’ll succeed

How amazing would it be if you could actually bet your way to willpower? While money isn’t always the funnest thing to talk about, it can actually serve as a great motivator when used in the right way. This whole “betting willpower” can be applied to a bunch of self-improvement areas, believe it or not. Here are a few examples:

  • It’d be a lot harder to skip your workout if you knew it would cost you $10, right? That’s exactly what I found in GymPact.
  • My husband has a hard time dedicating time to reading, so we made a bet. We each read 20 pages of a book each day, and whoever fails to do so pays up!
  • Cleaning the house and doing chores isn’t too fun, until I discovered the game Chore Wars. What it does is help motivate families or roommates to clean by competing! It’s actually pretty fun.

4. Set up systems to keep you on track

I can’t tell you how hard it is to keep myself off social networking websites — especially when I have difficult work to do. You probably venture off into time-suck websites way more often than you think, too! Checking these sites become like a crutch and a truly bad habit. Whenever we have even a minor mind freeze, we revert to these distractions to ease the pain.

When willpower isn’t enough, there are tools to force us to create new habits. These are the best willpower hacks I’ve ever encountered.

  • There’s a tool for Mac called Freedom that blocks the internet entirely. It means I’m disconnected for however long I choose. Once I enable Freedom, there is nothing I can do to get back online — except work while I wait!
  • Very similar to Freedom is a tool called SelfControl. This one allows me to stay online, but it helps me block out certain websites that I want to avoid. Whenever I have to get work done (and the internet is necessary), I use SelfControl to block out social networking sites. I get much more work done!

5. Make it impossible to fail

I find that the best way to secure the willpower to accomplish my goals and make lasting change is to have a clear purpose. My biggest wins have been the few times I was so clear and dedicated to my purpose that failure felt impossible. For example:

  • Being healthy for my future kids is what keeps me motivated to be consistent about working out. (For me, it’s a stronger purpose than fitting into skinny jeans.)
  • Providing my team with challenging tasks keeps me motivated to make my business work and grow. (For me, it’s a stronger purpose than making money.)
  • Showing my parents that I am grateful for all they have done for me keeps me motivated to visit with them regularly. Maybe even too often! (For me, it’s a stronger purpose than visiting them because it’s what I’m supposed to do.)

That’s my take my hacking willpower!

On your path to hacking willpower and increasing your ability to feel awesome, keep these tips in mind. Some small hacking could be secret to your success.

What tips have been useful to you along the way?


Based out of Managua, Nicaragua Marcella Chamorro just released a book on authenticity in marketing, titled To Be or Like to Be. Follow her blog for tips and thoughts on life/joy hacks & creativity.

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7 Responses to 5 Essential Ways Everyone Should Hack Their Willpower

  1. Bloom Oleary says:

    I love #1,3 & 5. Something about odd numbers maybe. It’s always struck me funny that people complain about that bad things but never celebrate the good in their life.  Whenever I bet on myself, it’s not the money that motivates me, it’s my urge to win and since people know what I’m doing I have to try that much harder to succeed. “Make it impossible to fail” I think it’s a great idea, you have to something to work toward, some end that you want to accomplish, it’s so much better when you’re down and struggling that you can say “no, I have to keep going I’m doing it for my family.” This was a wonderful post, thanks for the good morning read.

  2. Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I definitely go with #5, as well. 

  3. Tyson Otto says:

    That was a really good article.
    Thanks for such reasonable and clear reflection on this topic.I like #5 :)

  4. Willpower is a funny animal, isn’t it? Sometimes it works great and other times … not so much! We can use all these tips, Marcella. And I think it’s important to really recognize within ourselves what drives us, what’s most important to us and why. 

    We certainly don’t have to have willpower to sleep, eat, and, say, have sex, for instance. Why not? Well, we know why not. Not everything has the same motivating power, does it? If we can drill down to the “whys” of everything, it can make things easier. 

    Just some thoughts!

  5. Remez Sasson says:

    You are quite right saying that willpower and brainpower are both like batteries.  This means one has to constantly fill them. 

    In my opinion and experience, willpower can be strengthened in the same way, as the muscles are strengthened, through exercises. When one regularly exercises his or her willpower, even in small and not really important matters, one keeps the willpower battery full. 

    Doing things that you don’t really like or want to do, such as drinking water, when you want to drink something else, getting off the bus one station before or after your destination, or resisting the desire to check your mail now, checking it only 20 minutes or more from now, strengthen your willpower.

  6. Santosh Sali says:

    Really very good article … 

  7. Osman Hameed says:

    Good Tips! Thanks for the article.

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