A study on delaying extra good food was conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel in the 1970s, referred to as The Stanford Marshmallow (still can’t believe that word is spelled that way) Experiment. It involved four-year-olds who were told by a researcher that they could either eat one marshmallow immediately or two if they waited while the researcher stepped out for a few minutes.
How often do you delay gratification in order to get a bigger prize…later? Are you good at creating habits that will make you successful, even when the situation becomes challenging? Do you exert your willpower, or regularly give in and make unhealthy choices?
Try this drill
- Write down a recent moment when you did not follow through with what you wanted – when you gave into a more immediate reward instead of doing what you committed to.
- Write down how you felt after you made that decision. Were you proud of yourself? Did you get closer to your goals or did you become more of who you want to be?
- Now, write down a recent moment when you DID follow through and you created healthy habits and used your willpower to overcome.
- Jot down how you felt about yourself because you did not give in even though it may have been more fun or easy. Did you feel good about yourself and proud of yourself? Did you get closer to your goals?
Recognize that willpower is just like a muscle. It can be strengthened with practice and it can always improve.
One of the first steps to improving, is becoming more aware of your thoughts, behaviors and actions.