Whether you’re trying to get fit or get ahead, you’ve got to have willpower. However, for most of us, it’s in short supply. Luckily, you can increase yours by making a few simple changes. We found this in U.S. News and World Report:

  • Reward yourself. Dr. Kevin Volpp, the director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Health Incentives, found that intangible goals like “looking better” or “being healthier” don’t really motivate us. Instead, he suggests getting specific, and offering rewards for your successes along the way. For example, you might buy a new shirt or dress when you lose 10 pounds. Or treat yourself to dinner and a movie with the money you saved on cigarettes this week.
  • Talk about your goals. Don’t just keep ‘em to yourself! Michael Inzlicht is a psychologist at the University of Toronto. His studies show that people who feel alone are more likely to indulge their sweet tooth and give up on hard tasks. Aimee Kimball, director of mental training at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Sports Medicine, agrees.  She says that informing your family and friends of your goals will more than double your chances of achieving them, because you’ll feel more accountable. Also, they’ll encourage you to keep at it.
  • Use it, but not too much. Roy Baumeister is a social psychologist at Florida State University. His studies show that willpower works just like a muscle. Exercise it and it gets stronger - but overworking your willpower muscle can wear it out. So, instead of swearing off sugar cold turkey, vow to give up sweets during the day. When you’re successful with that, give up dessert after dinner.

So, here’s a quick willpower review: Make small changes, give yourself rewards along the way, and remember that no man is an island. Especially when it comes to passing on the mint chocolate chip ice cream.