Here I am on a Friday evening, consuming copious quantities of Monster and M&Ms. It’s been a long week. I’m tired. Willpower is waning and I need to fuel myself through one last engineering effort.
Roy Baumeister’s book, Willpower, taught me that self-control is a finite resource, weakened by low blood sugar, PMS, and decision-making processes. You know what depletes willpower the most? The belief that willpower is a limited resource.
When humans are informed of a limitation, the limitation becomes a self-fulfilling excuse. Most of the time, it’s not even correct. How can you know where your limits are unless you exceed them?
I don’t dispute that a human can eventually die of exhaustion, but that hasn’t happened to me yet. The only thing limiting willpower is the belief that it is limited.
V. Job, C.S. Dweck, G. Walton. Ego Depletion−−Is It All in Your Head? : Implicit Theories About Willpower Affect Self-Regulation. Psychological Science, 28 September 2010.