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Thanks to researcher Roy Baumeister and others, the evidence is clear that we have one reservoir of willpower. It's a highly limited resource, and it gets depleted by every act that requires its use.
So how do we take back control of our lives? What follows are the key moves we can make. It's not all or none. More is better, but each one will help.
1. Make more of your behaviors automatic.
Because our willpower is so limited, our best defense is to rely on it less. Here's how the brilliant mathematician Alfred North Whitehead put it: "Civilization advances by extending the number of operations we can perform without thinking about them." A ritual is a highly precise behavior that you perform over and over, at a specific time, so it becomes automatic and no longer requires much willpower to get it done.