What is the key distinguishing factor in willpower success and failure?
Why do I have willpower some days and not others?
Is there a difference in willpower between men and women?
Willpowered now has almost 30,000 email subscribers (who all rock) and I receive about 20-30 emails from you every single day. Many of which have very good questions!
So I wanted to share some of the best and most frequently asked questions from subscribers so everyone can see their answers!
Here are the top 10 questions asked!
1. CAN YOU HELP MY PROCRASTINATION PROBLEM?
Procrastination is by far the most universal willpower challenge. Almost all of my questions have something to do with the best ways to overcome procrastination.
This is because procrastination has the power to turn any goal into a failure. It doesn't matter if your goal is to get a degree, start an exercise routine or go on a diet. Tomorrow always seems like a better time to work on it than today.
We genuinely believe that our future self will be much better than us at almost everything. They will have more energy, more willpower and more time for self-improvement than our present selves. So we put work, study and exercise off until later when we believe our super-hero future selves will come in and save the day.
To overcome this tendency, you must first realize that your future self is much like your present self. He or she will be just as tired, stressed and wanting to procrastinate as you are right now. He or she, unfortunately, is rarely a savior. 
After you recognize this:
1. Do not overload your future self again. Be realistic about your expectations.
2. Bring your mind to the present. Do not build up a poor experience in your head.
3. Just start. Once you are immersed in the task, you will be less likely to procrastinate.
2. WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WILLPOWER?
When I started my first company, I wanted to do everything I could to help ensure its success. So I started reading everything I could find on entrepreneurship, leadership, management and productivity.
Eventually I came across a book called "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. It contained a small section on the science of willpower. When I read about how willpower worked, I felt a strong rush of energy and passion that I had never felt before.
After that, I read everything I could on the subject. Then I implemented the principles into my life in any way I could. I used it to create a habit of exercise, improve my productivity, stick to a strict diet, wake up earlier and force myself to practice skills like writing.
Then I wanted to share what I learned, so I started a blog called www.willpowerscientist.com. Eventually it picked up enough traffic that I thought it would be worth it to take a chance and begin writing and teaching the science of willpower.
3. WHAT IS THE KEY FACTOR IN WILLPOWER SUCCESS?
People who reach their goals use their willpower to make consistent progress, not to put in super-hero efforts over a short period of time. Great things take time. Usually they take a lot longer than we would like.
The people who achieve great things have the willpower to keep pushing until finally they make it. 
Despite the fact that she was a depressed single mother in poverty, JK Rowling still wrote every single day for 4 years until she finally had the first Harry Potter book published. 
Despite getting rejected by over 200 investors, Howard Schultz kept pitching until he finally had the money to expand his small coffee company named Starbucks. 
Imagine if these people followed the typical pattern of setting a huge goal, over-extending themselves and giving up before they made any real progress?
Even if it takes months, years, or decades, you will never fail until you stop persisting.
4. WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST WILLPOWER CHALLENGE AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
My biggest willpower challenge was back in February when I had only 30 days of money left and I needed to figure out how to pay rent for next month - you can read the full story here. It was one of the toughest challenges of my life. It was truly sink or swim time.
I then wrote an article called, "10 Daily Habits That Will Give You Incredible Willpower" that blew up online and increased the site's traffic from 700/day to over 5,000/day.
It's easy to say that this was simply a stroke of luck that led to getting the traffic to a point that I could make a living, but that's not true. For the previous 6 months, I had willed myself to write 1,000 words every single day. Christmas, Thanksgiving, my birthday, every day.
Over time, forcing myself to do this helped me practice my writing skills. Posting articles this frequently helped me learn what people found useful and what they didn't. And that article actually consisted of the summaries of 10 other articles that had previously been written.
So I was only able to overcome this huge challenge because of the work that I had been doing for months leading up to that point. Another reason why persistence is the most important factor in willpower success.
5. why do i HAVE WILLPOWER SOME DAYS AND NOT OTHERS?
For most of history, psychologists have believed that willpower is a skill - like playing the piano. It is something that can be practiced, cultivated and improved over time. This explains why there are masters of willpower like David Blaine who can will themselves to do seemingly impossible feats.
However, despite David Blaine's heroic willpower, he fully admits to the fact that after he is done one of his stunts, he cannot seem to maintain his discipline. He gains weight, he skips workouts and he even forgets to file paperwork. 
How can someone with so much willpower skill suddenly lose it? If you are a master piano player, you do not suddenly wake up after a large concert and forget how to play the piano.
The answer is because willpower is not a skill, it is actually more like a muscle. It can be built to extraordinary strength, as with David Blaine, but it also gets tired from overuse and can begin to weaken if it is not taken care of properly. 
This explains why some days you can accomplish so much, while other days you feel like you just can't find the energy.
6. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST GOAL WITH WILLPOWERED?
To strengthen the willpower of the world, one person at a time.
I fully believe that great things happen from the unbreakable willpower of single individuals.
There are countless examples of this:
Nelson Mandella not being broken by his 25 years spent in prison.
Martin Luther King Jr. not giving up his idea of peaceful protest of injustice.
Scientists such as Galileo who continued their pursuit of truth despite condemnation and imprisonment by the State.
There are countless other examples. I firmly believe that the grit and determination showcased by those individuals is a skill we can all acquire. And that we can teach people these skills to endure any hardship on the way to a specific long-term goal.
If we at Willpowered can help train people all over the world to develop these skills, and fill the world with more Martin Luther Kings and Nelson Mandellas, then the world might just become a better place.
7. DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING?
This question is always a tough one to answer. One of the first life-changing books that I ever read is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It is all about influencing the subconscious mind through the power of positive thinking.
There are a lot of benefits to thinking positively, but I believe that most people do it incorrectly. I don't believe that self-esteem and confidence is as big of a problem today as it was back in Napoleon Hill's time during the Great Depression.
So now, people use the power of positive thinking to become overly optimistic. This leads them to disregard past failures, rather than trying to learn from them. It also leads them to take days off, because they feel they will achieve their results anyway. Finally, it makes them feel worse when things don't end up working out the way that they want them to.
Having said this, though, there are definite advantages to thinking positively. In order to tap into your most powerful form of willpower - Want Power - your brain needs to genuinely believe that the task is achievable. You need to be confident in your ability to get the job done. 
However, once you are confident enough to believe that you can do it, being more confident won't help you very much. It may actually hurt you as you begin to downplay the amount of work and discipline needed to get the job done.
The answer, then, is that if you are not confident enough in your ability to achieve your goal, then yes, subscribe to the power of positive thinking. However, once you genuinely believe you can do it, stop worrying about positive thinking and start taking positive action.
8. I WANT TO START MY OWN BLOG. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE?
With 30,000 subscribers and 150,000 visitors/mo acquired in less than 9 months, Willpowered is one of the fastest growing blogs on the web right now. There are 3 key reasons that I believe this has happened.
1. Selecting one clear topic that is valuable and relatable to many people.
2. Never ever deviating from that one topic.
3. Writing everyday.
The reason that these 3 things are what will make your blog successful is because there is SO MUCH content out there for users to find. So it is almost impossible to break through the noise.
In order to do so, you need to have one clear reason why someone will open up their inbox or their wallet to you instead of someone else. People come to Willpowered because there is one clear message - this site will strengthen your willpower.
That's it. That's the only thing that I want people to think of when they think about Willpowered. So as much as I would love to write about topics like sports, politics or even entrepreneurship, I know that will make the signal weaker.
So you must have the discipline to choose an important topic, then never deviate from it.
Then you must stay consistent and write every day. This will help you to become a better writer and figure out which topics are more valuable to readers than others. These may not work for everyone, but this is the best advice I can give so far.
9. DO MEN OR WOMEN HAVE MORE WILLPOWER?
Sorry gentlemen, the answer is that women do naturally have more willpower than men do. This explains a lot about the differences between men and women. Men are more likely to commit crimes, drop out of school, become obese and abuse drugs/alcohol. 
However, do not let that discourage you, men. Although women have a head start when it comes to willpower, remember from question 5 that willpower is like a muscle. Women may have more willpower to begin with, but you can strengthen your willpower over time.
However, ladies, if you do the same willpower workouts as a man does, you will still have the upper hand.
10. What is the very Best willpower strategy?
There is no doubt about this one - chunking.
Chunking is the process of taking a large task, goal, dream, etc. and breaking it into manageable “chunks”.
If you’ve ever had a goal, you know how exciting it can be at first. You can see the “after photo” of your life when the goal is achieved - and you love what you see. You imagine all of the great things about the “new you” and you can't wait to get started working towards that goal!
Then it’s time to actually do the work and you get a sudden rush of being completely overwhelmed.
You see just how much work it’s going to take to get you from where you are, to where you want to be. Then you get paralyzed by the fact that you don’t know where to begin. So you don't bother trying, or you lose the persistence to keep going.
Chunking works because it shifts your focus from that larger goal, into smaller chunks that are easier for your brain to comprehend. 
If your goal is to follow a 12-week exercise plan, it can be overwhelming when you’re tired on day 4 and thinking about the fact that you have 80 more days of this.
But if you shift your focus to simply accomplishing the workout plan today, you are far less likely to become overwhelmed. Then, before you know it, 20, 40, 60 days have passed and you are more confident than ever that we can make it to the end.
I personally use the process of chunking every single day for every single task I have. It is as close to a "willpower miracle" as there is.
I have received a lot of great questions over the past 9 months - and surely there are many more to come! I hope that this list of 10 questions helped you learn a little bit more about the science of willpower and about Willpowered itself.
If you ever have any questions of your own, you can ALWAYS reach out to me at [email protected] I read and respond to every message!
- Buehler, R., Griffin D., & Ross, M. (1994) Exploring the "planning Fallacy": Why People Underestimate Their Task Completion Times. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 67.3 : 366-81.
- Baumeister, R., & Tierney, J. (2011). Willpower: Rediscovering the greatest human strength. New York: Penguin Press.
- Olson, J., & Mann, J. (2013). The slight edge (8th anniversary ed.). Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press.
- Duckworth, Angela L. "The Key To Success? Grit." Ted Talks. New York. Apr. 2013. Speech.
- BBC Arts. (2002). J.K. Rowling Biography. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ght2BpCkJYQ
- Schultz, H., & Yang, D. (1997). Pour your heart into it: How Starbucks built a company one cup at a time. New York, NY: Hyperion.
- Baumeister, Roy F., Ellen Bratslavsky, Mark Muraven, and Dianne M. Tice. "Ego Depletion: Is the Active Self a Limited Resource?" Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74.5 (1998): 1252-265
- McGonigal, K. (2012) The Willpower Instinct: How Self-control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. New York: Avery.
- Bandura, A., & Schunk, D. (1981). Cultivating Competence, Self-efficacy, And Intrinsic Interest Through Proximal Self-motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,586-598.