When we force ourselves to concentrate on any task we use something called willpower. Willpower is a finite resource. Once our willpower begins to fade, called willpower depletion, our brain tires. We soon find ourselves daydreaming about something else, engaging in bad habits and making poor decisions. Because willpower depletion impairs our thinking, it is important to become self-aware of your own individual willpower threshold. Knowing when you have reached our willpower threshold is important because it can save you from making poor decisions and engaging in bad habits.
Each individual has their own unique reservoir of willpower energy. Some naturally have more, some less. On average, willpower, or your ability to concentrate, lasts between 90 – 120 minutes. When you find yourself hitting the willpower wall you must take immediate action because not doing so can cause you to do things you regret, such as making a reckless spontaneous purchase, caving in on an important negotiation item, or losing control over your emotions. So, what do you do when you begin to exceed your willpower threshold?
When you run out of willpower, you essentially run out of brain fuel – glucose. A quick fix to this is eating something with sugar in it. This immediately boosts your glucose levels and temporarily restores your willpower. This quick fix should only be used in emergency situations because after 20 – 30 minutes you will find yourself even more depleted than before and your thinking even more impaired than before. A better fix is to eat a healthy, high protein meal or take a power nap (30-45 minutes). Eating a healthy meal or taking a nap completely restores your willpower, giving you another 90-120 minutes of clear thinking.
Understanding your willpower limitations helps you make better decisions, avoid bad habits and prevents you from losing control of your emotions, which could damage your relationships.