Willpower Over Time Theory

I have another theory that I’ve been turning over in my head for a while.

The hardest thing about a habit isn’t the willpower needed for an individual task. Flossing is an easy task that pretty much stays easy. It’s the STREAK - it’s doing it over time that becomes a drag. 

My theory is that Willpower is one aspect of the equation, but it’s Willpower over time that’s the real issue for any given habit. Call it persistence, endurance, doggedness, or tenaciousness - but it’s what caused me to make 750 words a habit despite having periodic setbacks.

I feel it reacts differently than Willpower - after about 2 months of working out, it’s not as though working out becomes difficult in that instance - it just becomes exhausting when it comes to the streak.

The reserve that fuels the act of extending the activity over time gets depleted, while the actual activity remains the same.


Furthermore, in my theory, as I have eluded to before, after a quarter of the way into a habit, Endurance becomes heavily depleted, while for Lally, it just becomes more and more easy.

And gamified programs, (although I’m sure they help lower the threshold with regards to Willpower) through their emphasis on badges over time and accumulating streaks, help the most with regards to Endurance depletion - Or whatever we should  call it.

There is a researcher - Dr. Angela Duckworth - who recently won the MacArthur Research Grant, who may be doing research into whatever this is. I’ll get into that in the next post.