15 Ways to Effectively Strengthen Your Willpower

UPDATED: May 23, 2024
PUBLISHED: April 5, 2019
15 Ways to Strengthen Your Willpower

@cpenree via Twenty20

Starting your own business takes a lot of guts. There will probably be many hurdles and unforeseen obstacles that will need to be dealt with. To make it through the hard times, entrepreneurs need to find it within themselves to self-motivate and push through the crises and stress.

As such, having strong willpower is a major key to every entrepreneur’s success. We asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council to share a concrete way every entrepreneur can strengthen their willpower. Here’s what they have found works well for them:

1. Set small, achievable goals.

Maintaining willpower is about keeping your mind on the prize. Determine what it is that you’re working toward and develop a plan for how to get there. That plan should include small, achievable goals along the way. Taking things one day at a time, one step at a time allows for little victories, which boosts confidence and collectively allows you to develop good habits and strengthen willpower.

Stephen Beach, Craft Impact Marketing

2. Control your thoughts and commit.

Increasing willpower and productivity requires taking control of your actions and thoughts and remaining committed to your short- and long-term goals. Avoid acting without thinking. When you get frustrated, stay calm and get a clear picture of what needs to be resolved, so you can avoid making emotional decisions. Second, identify and remove distractions, so you can stay committed to your plan.

Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

3. Use short bursts as a catalyst.

Use short bursts of willpower to push yourself past your limits. I’ve found that starting small, taking one step beyond your limits, and then two and then three, will help to build the belief that will eventually lead to huge leaps beyond what you thought was possible. It works because it trains your mind to use willpower as a catalyst to achieving the bigger things that you want.

Monica Snyder, Birdsong

4. Win the day.

I’ve heard that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Others have said 30 days and even 90 days. But I think it’s best to win the day and then string a bunch of those wins together. It’s easy to win one day and then string that into three days and five days and a week, versus being overwhelmed with being perfect for 90 whole days. Each small victory builds momentum, and all that momentum builds better habits.

Joel Mathew, Fortress Consulting

5. Take cold showers.

It may sound like a drastic measure, but taking cold showers (or even partially cold showers) is a great way to strengthen your willpower. Suffering strengthens your willpower more than success. By forcing yourself to be uncomfortable, you end up feeling confident and empowered (as well as refreshed). Taking a cold shower—even if for only 20 seconds—takes willpower.

Robby Scott Berthume, Bull & Beard

6. Just keep running.

Most marathon runners are aware of the dreaded “wall.” The wall is where your body shuts down around mile 20 and your mind starts screaming at you to stop. When a person completes their first marathon, they will have built willpower in two ways: First, by training every day and increasing miles slowly over time, and second, by running the last painful marathon miles in a broken body.

Michael Barnhill, Specialist ID

7. Get up one hour earlier.

Getting up earlier gives you an extra hour to prepare for the day. Use it to meditate, exercise, take a walk or get a head start on some business-related tasks. If you’re used to staying up late, you may need to go to bed earlier, as well, so you don’t deprive yourself of sleep. Most people are more productive early in the day, so creating that extra hour can make a big difference.

Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

8. Write down goals and progress.

When I see my goals in writing and daily write out what I’ve done to achieve them, it helps me be more accountable and eliminates those feelings of weakness to reach for or do something that I know I shouldn’t. I don’t want to have to write down that I slipped and let go of the strength to reach that goal.

Serenity Gibbons, NAACP

9. Say “no” out loud.

I tell myself “no” out loud when I start to feel myself slipping on a goal where I need that will power. It sounds silly, but it helps me to hear. From there, I think about the reason I am staying strong in that area and what the result will be for doing so.

John Hall, Calendar.com

10. Make your goals public.

Making a bet with friends, or tweeting “I will accomplish X by this date” goes a long way toward helping you accomplish your goals. Taking the step to publicize your objectives adds pressure, as many people don’t want their failures to be public. Equally important, when you tell the world that you want to achieve something, you’ll be amazed at how many people will support you along the way!

Aaron Schwartz, Passport

11. Use positive reinforcement.

Use positive reinforcement training to strengthen your willpower. This technique has been around for a long time because it id proven effective in changing behavior. When you exhibit strong willpower, then congratulate yourself and provide some form of reward, such as dinner from your favorite restaurant or something else that is special and out of the ordinary.

Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.

12. Take care of your body.

Eat healthy. Sleep. Exercise. These three things will allow you to feel rested, energized and able to make good decisions. Taking care of your body and mind is one of the healthiest and most effective ways to strengthen your willpower.

Adrien Schmidt, Bouquet.ai

13. Have good habits.

Having strong habits will make your willpower much easier to control. If you have a set of strong habits built into your daily routine, you will find that there won’t be as many decisions or moments your willpower will come into play.

Colbey Pfund, LFNT Distribution

14. Make a list of your previous successes.

As successful as many of us are, it can be tough to feel that way when you are seeing so many people in the news making millions of dollars with their new applications, companies or signing a new sports contract. Everyone is different and we all have different goals and standards. To keep your willpower up and moving forward, write down some of your best achievements and goals over prior years.

Zac Johnson, Blogging.org

15. Never be satisfied.

The one thing I noticed is that when I reach a goal, I create a bigger goal, and in the end, I see life as an endless movement. There is no end to discovery and being able to do things better. When you realize this, you start shooting for the stars instead of wanting to give up. For example, this year I reached my fitness goals and now I am working on more advanced fitness techniques.

Sweta Patel, Startup Growth Mode

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.