The Call of the Cupcake


I want a cupcake.

A chocolate one.

A chocolate one from Susie Cakes to be exact.

I want a chocolate cupcake so badly that I am having trouble focusing on the work in front of me because I keep thinking about the damn cupcake.

I can walk to Susie Cakes from my house in under 10 minutes. Surely a 20 minute walk would burn the calories from the cupcake, says the delusional voice in my head.

For heaven’s sake, have some willpower, yells the drill sergeant voice inside my head.

I want to have willpower, I really do, whines my inner disciplined person voice in my head.

The problem is I want a cupcake more.

So who is going to win: willpower or the cupcake?

I’d like to tell you that willpower will prevail, but I am not so sure. The cards are stacked in the cupcake’s favor.

First of all, it’s been a long day. Willpower decreases when we are tired.

Next, my day was filled with many decisions. Willpower is essentially a type of decision that keeps us from doing something that we want to do but shouldn’t do. It’s not an unlimited resource. We only have so much of it and when it is gone, it’s gone. When we make lots of decisions, decision fatigue sets in making it harder to resist the cupcake.

Third, I am stressed. This, despite the fact that I have meditated, done yoga and taken a walk, three things that are supposed to relieve stress. Yet, I am still feeling very prickly.

Finally, I know that because it is early evening that my chances of giving in to the cupcake is greater. Willpower is highest at the beginning of the day and gets worse as the day progresses.

But lest you think I am without any self-discipline, I am using some strategies I know to minimize the impact of my lack of willpower.

I am imploring the 10-minute rule—I am forcing myself to wait 10 minutes before I give into the call of the cupcake. If I still want the cupcake in 10 minutes, I will walk to the bakery that has the cupcake I am fixed upon. Then, if I do give into the lure of the bakery, I will eat only half of the cupcake, sharing the other half with my best friend who shares my cupcake obsession.

Or I can keep writing this blog post for a little bit longer because Susie cakes closes in 20 minutes and then the temptation is removed.

While willpower is an incredible skill, it is not fool proof, especially when there is a cupcake in the way.   Recognizing when willpower is likely to wane and determining ways to minimize the effect of its absence it also critical in achieving our goals.

So we have two ways we can mitigate this problem: get better at building willpower and get better at building automated habits that reduce our need to use willpower.

In my next blog I will give some tips I’ve learned from my reading and my own experiences in developing willpower. In the meantime, finishing this blog post took me long enough that Susie Cakes is closed.

I am safe from the call of the cupcake…for at least another day.