why willpower is really about intention

Willpower: the ability to control oneself and determine one’s actions

Motivation: the desire to do; interest or drive

Intention: an aim that guides an action

The Huffington Post published a summary of Northwestern University’s study exploring the energy model of willpower. That is, the impact of mental vigilance, and subsequent depletion of mental resources, on blood glucose levels. The details are interesting so it’s worth a read. Simply stated, they found that when sensing a reward is coming, the brain is motivated to put in extra effort!

To me this reads that we must know why we are doing what we are doing in order to be motivated to do it! So, when thinking about your motivation, you must consider your intention (the ultimate reward) for that motivation. Then willpower happens. Simple, but now it seems that science is backing it up.

The next time you put your mind to something, create a goal for yourself or even begin your day tomorrow, set a clear intention for yourself about what you want to achieve, what you would like to get out of the day, or just the way you want to be in the world that day. Notice for yourself if having a clear intention for your day makes a difference. I bet it will.

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About Jodi Rubin, ACSW, LCSW, CEDS

Jodi graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from SUNY at New Paltz and earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University. In addition to over a decade of work as an LCSW and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist with individuals, families and groups in her private practice, Jodi is a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Certified Personal Trainer and created Destructively Fit®, a training that addresses eating disorders within the fitness industry. She is a former director of Day Treatment at The Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders and a founding member of Metropolitan Psychotherapy and Family Counseling Practice. Jodi also specializes in infertility and has served on the Clinical Advisory Board of Seleni Institute since its inception. Jodi is the creator of a curriculum on eating disorders for the Graduate School of Social Work at New York University and has been teaching this course, as well as guest lecturing in the NYU Post-Master’s Program, since 2007. Jodi actively lectures and teaches students, families and professionals throughout the metropolitan area about the etiology, prevention, treatment, assessment and work with eating disorders. Through psychotherapy and supportive work with adolescents, adults and families, Jodi works to create a secure sense of self, increased self-esteem and a healthy relationship with self and others. She works with an eclectic person-centered approach and tailors her practice techniques to the unique needs of each individual. Please feel free to contact Jodi directly in her Greenwich Village office, 212.529.5811. View all posts by Jodi Rubin, ACSW, LCSW, CEDS

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