Step 9: Know That “Will Power” Is Finite!


What the experts say – The last decade of research has spawned two schools of thought on the subject.  On the one hand the term Decision Fatigue has entered in to the lexicon of psychology.  It is based on psychologist Roy F. Baumeister’s homage to Freud’s Energy Model of Self where the self or ego depended on mental activities involving the transfer of energy.  In order to prove out these theories Baumeister conducted a series of experiments at Case Western and Florida StateUniversity.  Long story short, his experiments proved that there is a finite store of mental energy for decisioning, will power and self control.  As the subjects exercised self control, they were less likely to fend off other temptations. So will power as it happens turns out to be much more than just a folk concept or metaphor.  It turns out that it is a mental energy that can be depleted through exertion.

How I did it. – This was one of those a-ha moments for me.  My mom had 7 kids worked 2 jobs and went to school full time when I was a kid so at 5am we had to be a highly trained well organized machine.  We didn’t have time to think about anything.  We needed to be doing or there was hell to pay to be sure.  We did everything the night before.  We chose our clothes, made lunches, packed book bags, took baths, etc. etc, all before bedtime (8pm Mon-Sun) so when that alarm went off we were officially on auto-pilot. This was a habit that was engrained early and just evolved into my adult life.  I’m a list maker, so naturally I made lists at the end of the day of decisions that needed to be made for the next day.  Living a fuller, more engaged, and healthier life was one of the decisions that I needed pounded into my psyche and soul so it went on the list and I made sure to acknowledge it in my reflective as well as prospective decisioning processes. (Did I live up to the decisions I made and how will I live up to them tomorrow?)  One of the reasons it worked for me was since I felt in my heart that the decision to live and be healthy was already made and validated every night and then again in the morning, there was no need to expend any additional energy on it. I was not depleting my stores of willpower or self control. In fact my resolve was stronger due to the fact that I just refused to make myself out to be a liar. (Which btw, was another of the many and varied reasons to catch a beat down at5266 S. State Street Apt. #909)  Seemed to me at the time to be a juvenile, even silly thing to do as an adult.  I guess sometimes it’s the small silly things we do for our loved ones that count the most!