I recently got into a conversation with a co-worker, let’s call him Stephan, and I was telling him that while on a travel project, I frequently go to Jugo Juice to get a good shot. The first time that I had the shot, I felt my insides were dying and I felt that I was going to puke my insides out at some point during the day (but spoiler alert, nothing happened). I then told him that the shot was actually good for two reasons:

  1. The health benefits – taking a shot of ginger, lemon, turmeric and cayenne pepper is good for you (and I don’t claim to be an expert on it but all of those things individually have enormous benefits which I won’t get into)
  2. Developing your willpower – I told Stephan that once you have your first shot, you know that it is going to be awful and you don’t look forward to taking the shot but when I get the shot, I try not to think about how awful it will be, I just take the shot and swallow it. By doing it this way, I slowly increase my willpower for doing things that I don’t like.

I’m sure we’ve all been in those same situations: you have a workout that you don’t really want to do because how awful you feel the day after, that medicine that tastes awful but you have to take it because the doctor said so and there’s numerous other situations where you do the activity only because you know the long term benefit is good for you even though there’s a short term ‘pain’.

I started thinking about all the ways that I develop my discipline and willpower and I thought I’d share so that you can try them out:

Taking a shot of something awful tasting but good for you first thing in the morning

While I love Jugo Juice, I am not necessarily saying that everybody should go and get a good shot in the morning. As one of my close friends, let’s call her Reeshi, says, you can create the same shot for much less than what they charge at Jugo Juice. While I was on different health kicks, I read a lot about Flaxseed oil and I purchased flaxseed oil and took shots of it every once in a while (it tastes awful and second, I never got through the whole bottle but that’s another story).

Cold showers

There are a number of benefits from taking cold showers – one that I remember is that it increases the antioxidants in your body which I found interesting. It helps with recovery from workouts and related to this article, it helps you develop your willpower. Taking a cold shower first thing in the morning (or at night) is probably the last thing on your mind when you hop in the shower. You just want that nice, hot water to pour all over your face and body and wash away the stress you have. Taking a cold shower for even 30 seconds will do wonders for you.

Brush with your non-dominant hand

I’m left handed and I have been brushing my teeth with my left hand for 10+ years (yes, I’m being careful not to reveal my age here). A few years ago, there was an article about developing your willpower by brushing with your non-dominant hand so I switched over to my right hand to brush my teeth (and I’m now getting pretty good at it though still not as good as my dominant hand). It will feel really weird at first and you’re probably not going to get all the nooks and crannies that your dominant hand will but after a while, you’re going to train your brain to do things with your non-dominant hand and it will not only develop your willpower but your concentration as well (you can’t just go on autopilot like you can with your dominant hand).

Use both feet when you drive

This is not something that I originally did to develop my discipline but I realized that it has the same effect as brushing with your non-dominant hand. I actually learned this from Tim Ferriss’ show: The Tim Ferriss Experiment where he and his friend learned rally car racing. In rally car racing, among other interesting things like using the brake to steer, rally car racers use both feet to drive – the right foot for accelerator and the left foot for the brake. By using the left foot for braking, you can shave off a bit of reaction time if something comes onto the road suddenly where you have to brake. I originally did it for the safety reasons. When I first went to use my left foot to brake, your braking is going to be sporadic. You’re not going to come to a slow stop like you do with your right foot – there will probably be a stop and slow and stop and slow phase. But after a while, you’re going to be able to slow down with your left foot just as well as you slow down with your right foot – and you’re going to get all the safety and willpower benefits as well.

And that’s the thing about doing some of these activities (or at least doing them first thing in the morning). When you take a cold shower, or you do a shot of the most awful thing you’ve tasted in your life every day, you set yourself up for success. How much worse can the day be after you’ve already conquered some of these ‘bad’ things in your life?

Another benefit of doing some of these activities? Breaking yourself out of a routine. Making sure that you’re not on autopilot for your life. When you think back about some of the activities that you did during the day or the week, I frequently do not remember what I did in the last hour. Getting yourself out of a routine will help you remember more of the things that you did because they’re different. Of course, the real challenge is how you prevent the new things you do from becoming routine as well.