Burnout & Willpower Gap | Visual Insights Newsletter
Talent, a high IQ, or self-control?
Which matters more to success in life?
Which matters more to happiness?
Believe it or not, it’s NOT talent or a high IQ.
In fact, our success and our happiness depend far more on our self-control and our willpower than our talent or our IQ.1
And no matter how intelligent, wealthy, attractive, or talented any of us may be, our willpower is like our energy — it’s limited.3
Each of us only has so much willpower.
And that willpower WILL run out at some point.
When it does, the willpower gap can trip us up.
The willpower gap is when excuses, low motivation, and poor choices can get in the way of our goals. And it can happen whenever we spend too much of our willpower.
But it doesn’t have to.
We can close that willpower gap, and any one of us can improve our self-control.4
Self-control is tied to better choices, improved health, and better overall well-being.
How Self-Control Can Make Life Better (And How to Get It Right)
Which practices are already habits for you?
Which would be the easiest to start tomorrow? Or the most challenging?
Focusing on improving your willpower and self-control can have lasting positive impact on your life.
Strong willpower has been linked to success. Folks who have stronger self-control tend to be happier and healthier, both in the short– and long-term.1
In fact, self-control has been tied to better choices, improved health, and better overall well-being.1
It’s also linked to less impulse spending and better financial decision-making.5
Of course, self-control shouldn’t be our ONLY focus.
And too much of it can backfire.
If we go overboard with self-control, we can mute our more intense emotions and dampen the joy we experience from our accomplishments.6
And that could leave us with regrets and missed opportunities, instead of satisfying experiences.
So, how do we get it just right?
How can we improve our sense of self-control without taking it too far?
By balancing self-control with self-compassion.6
Instead of taking the harsh approach that’s always pushing your limits, be kind and realistic when setting goals and working towards them.
It also helps to get advice and check in with the folks you trust along the way.
Let’s look at some simple exercises for closing the willpower gap and strengthening self-control.
How much willpower do you have in the morning?
How much do you have at night?
If you’re like many folks, you tend to have weaker willpower at night than in the morning.
Because most of us are exercising willpower continuously throughout the day.
When we use our willpower, we’re draining it.1
That could leave us vulnerable to the willpower gap before we know it.
The willpower gap happens when we go against our better judgment or fall short of a goal because low motivation, internal equivocation, or pure mental exhaustion limits our ability to make deliberate choices.
That can cause problems for any of us — unless we know how to close the willpower gap.
And that’s the focus of this month’s Visual Insights Newsletter.
No one’s immune from the willpower gap. It can sneak up on any of us and get in the way of our bigger life goals.
But it won’t if we know some simple strategies for getting ahead of the willpower gap. These practices can help anyone build willpower in the right ways.
If we do, we set ourselves up for greater happiness and more success in life.2
Let’s put your willpower to a fun test.
When you see the next words, try to read each of the following words out loud as fast as you can.
Were you able to read all the words correctly? How many times did you say the color instead?
This is a mini version of an experiment that was first done back in the 1930’s, the “Stroop Test.” It’s supposed to test willpower — and show how it can be depleted or drained.1
No matter how you did here or what really puts your willpower to the test, there are ways to make it stronger. That’s the focus of this month’s Visual Insights Newsletter.
On any given day, any of us can struggle with willpower and feel like we’re being put to the test.
When that happens, focusing on our values, our “why,” and the payoff can keep us motivated. It can help us persevere, even when we’re running pretty low on willpower.
Over time, that can make our willpower much stronger. It can also help us accomplish life’s bigger goals.2
Do you know what your brain does on willpower?
It’s happening whenever you try to resist anything or form new habits.
When you’re using willpower, the part of your brain responsible for reasoning, impulse control, and problem-solving (the prefrontal cortex) is activated.1
The opposite is true too.
With lower willpower levels, there’s not as much activity in the prefrontal cortex (sometimes none at all!). It’s also linked to other physiological symptoms, like lower blood sugar levels.2
That can mean we have a harder time making tough decisions.
Why does that matter?
Because, while the willpower gap seems impossible to close, there are simple ways to prevent it and bridge the gap. For example, the correlation between lower blood sugar and lower willpower suggests that eating regular balanced meals improves self-control when called on to make non-food decisions.2
The more we know about willpower, the better we’ll be at exercising it, making good choices, and achieving our goals. That’s the focus of this month’s Visual Insights Newsletter.
Is it possible to have too much discipline?
We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.
The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.
— Jim Rohn
“No” might be your automatic answer here, especially if you’re struggling to change your habits or accomplish a goal.
But the truth is that we CAN have too much self-control.
In fact, tipping the scales too much and going overboard with self-discipline can be a problem. And that’s true even if our self-control brings us success in life.1
Folks with too much self-discipline may not let themselves really enjoy their successes — or life’s joys — because they overly control and suppress their emotions.1
Too much self-control can also make it difficult to fully relax, connect with others, or look past the details to see the big picture.1
That can create a lot of extra stress.
It could even open the door to deep loneliness, lack of fulfillment, and lasting regrets.1
And that’s not going to help any of us live a better life.
So, how do we balance self-control? How can we get it just right?
We can start by:
- Forgiving ourselves for the slip ups we have as we work on our goals
- Focusing on taking care of ourselves and our relationships by setting aside time for self-care and interpersonal connection
- Being accountable and checking in with someone we trust about our progress
As a financial professional, I’ve seen how self-control can set up a “Goldilocks dilemma” — too little or too much can mean missing the mark. And possibly not achieving those bigger life goals. I’ve also had the opportunity to be an accountability partner and coach, helping people keep the right balance and stay on track, especially when the going gets tough.
I’d be honored to do the same for you.
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This material is for information purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information; no warranty, expressed or implied, is made regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability, or usefulness of any information. Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision. For illustrative use only.