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It’s only nearing the end of February, and the gym already looks almost half empty. What happened to all of those New Year’s resolutions to lose? And what about your decision to buy only two new pairs of shoes a year instead of two a week to save money for a new set of furniture?
A new report from the American Psychological Association goes in-depth into these issues of willpower and goals.
The APA report explained that people have major difficulties following through with goals to improve their health and finances due to a lack of willpower, according to a press release. This report is backed up by results from the annual Stress in America poll that was conducted by Harris interactive on behalf of APA in December 2011, and a follow-up survey.
The initial survey results stated that “93 percent of people set a goal to change their behavior this year,” according to the press release. The survey results further show that people at least have the desire to change but are experiencing setbacks when they actually try to make the change mainly due to a lack of willpower.
According to the survey, most people do believe that willpower can be strengthened with effort, so it’s a matter of learning the best ways to do this.
So how do you actually define willpower? According to the report, “willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” However, willpower has been defined in multiple ways and has synonyms, such as self-control, self-discipline and “the capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling or impulse,” according to the report.
The report reinforced that willpower has noticeable benefits and can be linked to “higher grade-point averages, higher self-esteem, less binge eating and alcohol abuse, and better relationship skills,” as well as “greater physical and mental health, fewer substance-abuse problems and criminal convictions, and better savings behavior and financial security.”
The report offered solutions for how to improve your willpower, including setting definite goals and planning ahead, engaging in effective self-monitoring and practicing the art of self-control.