Can you train willpower?

March 14, 2023 / Topical / Background

Yes, say researchers. Think of 'willpower' as a muscle that can be trained. Anyone can become a go-getter and thus complete this break month. But beware: thorough training requires time and patience. With our tips you can resist every temptation and tap that last day with conviction.

Why can one stick to 2 blocks of chocolate and the other eat a whole bar? Or just fill in a challenge that requires some willpower. There are go-getters and drop-outs. Is this genetically determined or something? No, according to various studies. Willpower has nothing to do with your genes, but with self-control and self-insight.

Self control

Everyone has self-control. Just like that everyone also has limited self-control. That means that your energy to persevere, to say no (to alcohol, among other things) and to motivate yourself is scarce. A common 'mistake' is that we humans are too hard on ourselves and then you run out of willpower.

The trick to training your self-control/willpower is to do different things throughout the day that require persistence. These can be small things: not watching cat videos while you are at work or not having a cookie after lunch. Try to leave enough time between the willpower moments, otherwise you will overexert yourself and you will have to deal with 'will exhaustion'.


So training your self-control is one thing you can do to get more perseverance. In addition, 'self-insight' plays an important role in training your willpower. When do you feel like a glass of alcohol extra? And what makes you finally give in to this sigh? Once you know what your triggers are, how this works for you, you can also respond better.

Tips for creating more willpower

Be gentle with yourself. Self-compassion makes you more willing to admit and correct your mistakes.

Don't kid yourself. You don't achieve something, for example not drinking alcohol for a whole month, for the neighbor. When you do something purely for yourself - I'm not drinking this month, because it's good for my health - it's a lot easier to 'persevere'.

Nothing has to. With a sentence like: 'I can't drink a drop this whole month' it takes more willpower to stick to it than when you say: 'I don't want to drink this whole month'. In the first case, your brain has to figure out what it is allowed to do.




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