Much has been learned about the nature of sefl-control and it’s role in addictions, procrastination, impulsivity, and unmet goals. There are many new books on the market on this topic. Less than a year ago, I attended an all day workshop on willpower. Trying to understand the nature of underdeveloped willpower is a hot topic as it contributes to so many frustrating outcomes. According to the American Psychological Association, Americans name lack of willpower as the number one reason they struggle to meet their objectives. There are many factors that contribute to the presence or absence of willpower including hunger, fatigue, and even goals that lack personal incentive.
Knowledge of your personality or psychological type can also be helpful in managing willpower in at least 3 ways:
1. Building awareness around typical willpower issues based on psychological type can help you understand why you might falter. For example, an ENFP type who has poor follow-through would benefit from knowing that ENFPs tend to be attracted to new opportunities and projects, especially after they get the basic gist of it and only details remain.
2. Knowing your type can inform your goals and even solicit assistance to help you attain your goal. For example, an ENFP is often challenged by details and follow-through. Setting goals that specify increased attention to details rather than “just finish it” helps to clarify where the energy needs to be directed. Having someone whose strength is follow-through and details or an external device or system to address these needs can help as an external source of willpower support (remind and encourage you).
3. It is well-known that tasks that tap into the 3rd and 4th functions of a personality type require additional energy. Therefore you will have more success if you are well-rested and have extra energy. Shifting from easily accessed functions such as extraverted intuition in the case of ENFP types (Ideas! Possibilities!) to 3rd and 4th function behaviors (logic, sensing and details) can be a challenge. A critical structure in willpower is a well-developed prefrontal cortex. This is the most sophisticated structure in the brain and the one that uses the most energy and glucose. The prefrontal cortex inhibits impulses,, and it serves to initiate behaviors. It is the seat of judgment and holds the capacity to evaluate choices. It is the CEO of your brain that says “do this” and “do that”. Therefore be mindful of energy resources when you need to operate out of preference.