self-control is more powerful predictor of success than IQ [3]

Initialize full willpower tank and stabilize the natural depletion, do not let eating habits create drops or spikes in willpower

  • Sleep more and better so that you have more initial willpower for the day.
  • Eat food that sustains the energy (sugars do not sustain it) to keep the brain stable, to be more likely able to surf the urge.

Train your willpower physiology

  • The tedious task that you practice does not have to be very important task.
  • Meditate by breathing, noticing thoughts wandering and getting back to breathing.
  • Do cardiovascular exercise to receive an overall positive effect on making good choices [2].

When willpower mistake happens, forgive yourself

  • Notice that you’re feeling bad about the mistake.
  • Acknowledge that it was normal in that situation for the mistake to happen, a lot of people do it, just identify and acknowledge the reasons why you did less of the things that take some amount of willpower, i.e. find out why you made the mistake.
  • Do not be too harsh on yourself about it, do not feel bad.

Make friends with your future self, in a way that feels real

The more different people think their future self will be, the less willpower they currently have.

  • Think about your future self, imagine yourself in doing some usual activity (e.g. grocery shopping) or better - write a letter.
  • Imagine specific future related to your willpower challenge (imagine what you will say to yourself just before making the willpower mistake) - it is more helpful in boosting willpower by imagining failure and the consequences of it, because we think about what could have caused it and then working prevent it - become the detective of your own failure.

Be defensively pessimistic, predict your failure, be interested in the process of how you fail

  1. What is your goal?
  2. What would be the most positive outcome?
  3. What action will I take to reach this goal?
  4. What is the biggest obstacle?
  5. When and where is this obstacle most likely to occur?
  6. What can I do to prevent the obstacle?
  7. What specific thing will I do to get back to my goal when this obstacle happens?

Surf the urge when facing temptation

Stay put, hold your breath, do nothing when you are in an uncomfortable position (very close to making a willpower mistake)

  1. Notice the thought, craving or feeling.
  2. Accept and attend to the inner experience.
  3. Breathe and give your brain and body a chance to pause and plan.
  4. Broaden your attention and look for the action that will help you achieve your goal.

BOOST - Make willpower mistake to save for an exceptional task

Do less of the things that take some amount of willpower (e.g. you can skip tidying your room, or taking out garbage) before a task of exceptional importance (e.g. taking an exam).


  1. Authors@Google: Kelly McGonigal
  2. Brain Science - A Miracle Cure for Willpower
  3. TEDxSF - Dr. Sam Wang - 11/17/09