Winter is one of the hardest times of the year to overcome a lack of willpower. Think about it. It’s 6am and the alarm goes off loud and obnoxiously. You wrestle the sheets kicking and internally screaming as you engage what feels like every muscle in your body in an attempt to wack the snooze button hoping to turn it off.

You’ve reached this situation because at some point during the week or last night, you decided it would be a great idea to get up early and get a workout in before work. Yet despite this familiar feeling of something you have overcome in the past, it still feels like your internal monologue goes into battle in a bid to convince you to take it easy.

Many put this down to having a lack of willpower or motivation.

Maybe it’s the sound of rain hitting your rooftop. It could be the stress of the day ahead that’s stopping you from going about what you had planned with very good intentions.

But what is it really?

What prevents us from regularly doing what we know will benefit us in the long run?

To find the answers we thought, simple! We’ll just ask our good mate Will, (pictured below) he’ll have all the answers for sure, easy, done, simple as that…

Unfortunately, Will was not forthcoming of giving away his mighty secrets. So continue reading below as we delve deeper into our behaviours and thoughts around willpower. Read on for what we can do to overcome it and harness its full potential this winter.





What is Willpower?


Having strong willpower is often described by one’s ability to resist short-term gratification in the pursuit of better, more meaningful long-term goals/objectives. Now, this is subjective to each individual’s personal preference on what they deem to be a positive or negative decision based around their own short- and long-term desired outcomes.

Waning willpower can be triggered by an emotionally charged stimulus overriding one’s rationale. This can lead to impulsive actions or behaviours.

Or in another context can lead to a lack of action. Which seems to be the more common case for most people struggling to be consistent with their workout routine.



Why is willpower lower in Winter?


Just as muscles are strengthened by regular exercise, regularly exerting self-control may improve willpower strength over time. Meaning that overcoming temptations for short term gratitude on a regular basis, will help put you in a more advantageous position over time to make better decisions for your long-term goals.

For most areas, and in particular on the east coast of NSW in Australia, it can be argued that summer is a little bit easier than winter to endure. This is especially true if you are trying to workout first thing in the morning.

And perhaps your willpower over the summer is not tested to the fortitude it encounters in the cold wet winters.

Thus, an untrained willpower coming into the winter months may find it more difficult to conjure the strength required on a daily basis.



How can we overcome a lack of willpower?


The good news is that exercise and increased willpower go hand in hand.

Well known and established benefits of exercise include:

  • Weight control
  • Greater mood improvement
  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Increased strength
  • Cardiovascular health


It is also a lesser-known fact that exercise also increases our will power. Read more about some unexpected benefits of exercises here.

So, giving into temptation and hitting the snooze button causing elevated stress levels as you leg it after the 401 bus you will undoubtably miss, may also plummet your ability to call upon your will power again the next day. A nasty non-beneficial cycle appears.

To avoid this being you, planning ahead, finding a workout partner and being kind to yourself with positive self-talk are all great strategies to help boost your willpower this winter.

Read on for 3 strategies to overcome a lack of willpower and stay motivated this winter.



Strategy #1 – Be organised


If you truly want to overcome a lack of willpower and give yourself the best chance of a result, you must plan and prepare for success. It is unrealistic to think that we will have complete motivation every day of the week to do everything we set out to.

So therefore, planning is critical in helping us overcome some of these controllable barriers. If you workout first thing in the morning have your clothes folded and ready to go the night before.

Or if that still doesn’t work, wear your lycra to bed just leave the cycling shoes outside maybe.

This same principle applies to a number of time-saving tasks that can stand in the way of you getting to your AM workout.

Time saving tasks could include:

  • Pre-making breakfast
  • Packing your gym bag
  • Packing your work supplies
  • Committing to a schedule that works for the time you have and stick to it.


This may mean not checking the gram or emails as you brush your teeth. You can leave that to an appropriate time of day that you set aside for.

As for the winter, just remember all these days are the same as summer. The time is the same. Your bed is the same. It is also likely your running shoes are still the same.

So, if temperature is holding you back, invest in some warmer workout layers you love to wear. Your health will cost you more in the long run than that new wind jacket if you continue to hit the snooze button every morning.

If you are a night workout warrior, it is even more important to stay on top of your schedule. You need to know when to call it a day. We often struggle to switch off. With increases in modern technology beeping at us 24/7 nowadays, it is important to set a timeline for your day and stick to it.

Yes, kids and other commitments can get in the way which is why it is also important to stay flexible in your approach.

For example, if you finish work at 6pm and have dinner at 7pm, then perhaps you can workout at 8pm for an hour.

If you have 4 hours between finishing work and going to bed, arrange your commitments in a flexible manner than can allow for changes. Just don’t neglect what you set out to do. For the benefit of your long-term health, the importance of staying consistent in your workouts and routine will not only be better for you, but those who you surround yourself with long term. You will have more energy, be happier and be more organised with your time allowing you to then give back your time to others.



Strategy #2 – Buddy up and help others


Fact: It is much harder to skip your workout routine when you are accountable to another person and not just to yourself.

One of the best and science backed ways we can harness our willpower this winter is to team up and pursue our goals with a partner. If you have a neighbour close by that also like to walk or run invite them along to your sessions. Or if you prefer to be in your own headspace in your workouts to think, unwind and enjoy the peace then try teaming up with an online fitness group or app.

Strava is a great example of this where you can go about your run in your own time, yet still have the connection and accountability of others. There are tonnes of community fitness groups like this with most suburbs having community Facebook groups you can join.



Strategy #3 – Be Kind To Yourself


Consider your self-talk and how you treat yourself on a daily basis. Do you know how hard it can be to overcome a lack of willpower when you are talking down to yourself?

Think to yourself, would I say that to a friend to their face?

Or would that actually motivate someone else if I repeated such negativity to them?

The answer I can almost guarantee is no, it won’t help. So why would you waste your energy or time demotivating yourself?

Negative self-talk often comes from having high expectations around a given task or persona you are expecting yourself to embody.

There are many internal and external factors that can influence this which we won’t get into here, but the main take away is to realise your why behind these expectations. Is it something that you saw others say or do, or were you brought up expected to achieve a certain standard?

Perhaps you have previously met this expectation before. You could be trying to replicate this same success despite differing circumstances. Our advice here is to be kind to yourself, know your limits and capabilities. Don’t be afraid to take a break every now and then.

This doesn’t give you a free pass to procrastinate or be “lazy”. You are applying a strategic break to recharge your batteries for a better tomorrow.

Own your self-talk and think about what words may motivate you, then repeat those inspirational words to yourself daily.



In Summary


A lack of willpower can be hard to overcome, especially in winter. However, if you work at it and stay consistent, then you can certainly overcome any obstacle in front of you. If you can take on the below key pointers, you will be much closer to success than you realise.

Key pointers:

  • Remove negative self-talk
  • The importance or organisation and planning ahead
  • Finding your why, creating goals for a stronger purpose to do what is required today.
  • Take a break, not everyday will be your best day
  • Celebrating the little wins along the way, cross things off the to do list.
  • Focus on what you can do, not what you can not
  • Find a training buddy, make each other accountable and set up times to work out together.
  • Pay it forward and help a mate.
  • Look towards your desired future self and ask what it would take/would you do to become that person.
  • You are not alone in how you feel.




Want To Learn More?


Since COVID-19 entered our lives, we have aimed to deliver some great weekly information as to how you can remain healthy, productive and in good spirits. This blog post is the latest addition to a growing library of information. Click to read more on our dedicated COVID support blogs.


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