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Personal growth: New thinking on the use of “willpower” February 20, 2018

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Goal Setting and Realization.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

If you have tried unsuccessfully to use willpower to achieve different goals in your self-actualization program, the fault may not lie in your inability to use willpower, but rather, it may be that the concept of willpower is actually an ineffective way to make progress with your goals.

An interesting and detailed article on vox.com cites a number of recent research studies which indicate that reliance on willpower alone can actually be counter-productive in our personal development efforts.

Commenting on a study in which Blair Saunders, a University of Dundee psychologist, was the lead author, the Vox article, written by Brian Resnick, states:

“In a specific situation, sure, you can muster willpower to save yourself from falling back into a bad habit. But relying on willpower alone to accomplish goals ‘is almost like relying on the emergency brake when you are driving your car,’ Saunders says. ‘You should focus on things that drive you toward your goals rather than stopping things that are in your way.’ What’s more, the human “emergency brake” that is willpower is bound to fail in some instances, causing you to crash.

The article concludes:

“Focusing on failures of willpower leads to shame, both public and private, and holds back our curiosity from finding and enacting solutions that actually work.”

Here’s a link to the complete article:



1. Robert - February 20, 2018

Willpower works on the premise that you are a machine. When you fail at a goal it is not the lack of willpower but the inadequacy of meaning within a social context.

Dennis Mellersh - February 20, 2018

Hi Robert
Thanks for your comment. I checked out your blog and I enjoyed the short-format approach to articles.
Less can be more. Take care…Dennis

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