Why willpower is over-rated

If we had one piece of advice for anyone thinking about starting a transformation it would be this: don’t rely on willpower to get a result.

You see, willpower doesn’t work. Or, to be more precise, it works for a bit. Then it runs out. And before you know it you’ve eaten a whole packet of biscuits during a meeting with Stuart from accounts and you’re sitting there surrounded by crumbs and little pangs of guilt.

When you rely on willpower, you set yourself up for a miserable existence because your energy and effort is wasted on resisting things you think you want. A better way to approach your transformation is to use our CAB system, which stands for Commitment, Anticipation and Buy-in. Here’s how it works:

Commitment
Before you start, identify your goal and make a commitment to yourself that you’re going to do everything you can to make it happen. The point here is that you’re taking choice and decision-making out of the equation. You don’t ask yourself if you feel like gong to the gym. That decision has been made. It’s happening, so move on to thinking about something else. It’s an approach that worked for basketball legend Michael Jordan. “Once I made a decision, I never thought about it again,” he said. The good news is that we’re here to help make the process easier. When you’re on the New Body Plan, for example, we map out your meals for you. All you need to do is follow the plan.

Anticipation
They key to an impressive transformation is removing temptation and stacking the odds of success in your favour. According to a study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science how much temptation you’re exposed to is more significant than your ability to exert self-control. So take some time to think about what’s likely to derail your better-body efforts and make a simple plan about how you’ll avoid them. If you’re always tempted to buy a latte and croissant from a particular cafe on the way to work, take a slight detour and you’ll sidestep having to rely on willpower. You should also think about how you can create conditions that encourage success, such as doing a big food shop each week or writing your training sessions into your diary for the week ahead.

Buy-in
To guarantee hitting your goals you’re going to need some skin in the game. You need to buy in, both financially and mentally, to the process. When there’s something at stake you’ll be less likely to give up. You could go public and tell your friends what you’re doing or you could do something low key and be accountable to yourself by keeping a training diary, like the ones included in the New Body Pack. Whatever route you take, when you’re properly invested in the process, you’ll get a better return.

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