Unbreakable Habits: Develop the Resilience and Willpower to Succeed

Written by: Kyle Riley, BSc (hons) Ex Sci
Therapy Co-Founder

When it comes to achieving your goals, habits are crucial to success. A habit is a repeated behaviour or action that is performed in response to a specific cue or stimulus, often without much conscious thought or intention. Habits, through repetition and reinforcement can become automatic.
Key elements of a habit:
  1. Cue (or trigger): A specific situation, event, or stimulus that prompts the behaviour. e.g. Break time at work
  2. Routine (or behaviour): The actual action or behaviour performed in response to the cue. e.g. Walk to coffee shop for coffee
  3. Reward (or reinforcement): The benefit (sometimes perceived) or payoff received after completing the behaviour, which reinforces the habit loop. e.g. Social time, time away from screen, energy boost etc.
 As shown in the elements above, in order to get habits to stick, they need to be consistently reinforced through repeated routines with a benefit or payoff. However, when trying to break old habits and introduce new ones, there are two essential elements required in order to stay on track long enough so that these new habits become autonomous: Willpower and Resilience. Without these, even the best intentions can falter in the face of challenges.

Willpower: The Engine of Habit Formation

Willpower is the ability to control our thoughts, feelings, and actions. It’s the capacity to say “no” to short-term temptations and “yes” to our long-term goals. But willpower is like a muscle, it can be developed with use, depleted with overuse and if we do not use it, we lose it

To build habits, we need to develop our willpower through:

  • Mindfulness and self-awareness – knowing whilst we may not be able to control our thoughts and desires, we can develop the skills to seperate our thoughts from our actions.
  • Small acts of self-control – training our willpower ‘muscle’.
  • Rest and relaxation to replenish our willpower reserves – our self-control is driven by the prefrontal cortex, when we are tired our self-control is compromised.

Importantly, whilst willpower is important in the early phases of habit formation, it is not the key predictor to success with long term habit chance, in-fact, research shows that, surprisingly, people who are more successful at achieving long-term goals can have less willpower in their day-to-day lives. Willpower and motivation comes and goes, building an environment that fosters consistent routines ensure habits prevail.

Resilience: The Backbone of Habit Persistence

So, how do we ensure we stay on the journey when willpower fades and we are faced with hurdles?

Enter, Resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. It’s the capacity to adapt and thrive in the face of challenge. To build long term habits, we need to be able to come back over and over, when the going gets tough, and even when we fail. 

We can develop our resilience through:

  • Developing Competence –  Be aware of your strengths/weaknesses, learn through experiences and ask for feedback. Having competence means building the relevant skills to move towards your goals and deal with hurdles along the way. 
  • Building Confidence & Character – Practice following through on what you say you will do, celebrate the wins (no matter how small) and develop positive self-talk. These traits are vital to knowing who you are and fostering the belief that you can overcome life’s challenges. 
  • Connection & Contribution – Invest time in close relationships, surround yourself with people who share similar values and give back. Developing these traits will provide a vital support network as well as feelings of purpose and fulfilment by being a part of something bigger than yourself.
  • Coping and Control – Take time to ‘fill your cup’, increasing your vitality means a greater capacity to tolerate stress. Set boundaries, practice self-care and focus on what you can control. This practice will reduce the risk of burnout and ensure you are equipped to tolerate the challenges faced in the pursuit of your goals.
Ready to build your resilience?

Join us for Resilience Week: 20th-26th May. 
7-Days. 7 RunLift Classes. 
With a supportive community and expert instructors backing you every step of the way. 
Find out more here.

Building Resilient Habits: The Key to Success

In summary, Habits require a continuous loop of willpower and resilience to overcome challenges. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Willpower helps us start a new habit
  • Resilience helps us persist through obstacles and setbacks
  • Small wins build momentum and reinforce our willpower, reward system and desire to continue with the routine, failures (when framed appropriately) provide lessons learned and develop our resilience
  • The experience (even if we fail) helps us to learn, adapt and improve
  • Repeated and improved action over time, with increased reward/success will slowly reinforce the routine the habit requires to stick.

Free Workshop


Unstoppable You: How to Build Resilient Habits

Saturday 18th May 

In this 90-minute session, we’ll explore the powerful combination of willpower and resilience in building habits that last. Learn how to develop the strength and determination you need to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals.

Discover the science behind habit formation and how to harness the power of small wins to drive big success.

Leave with a clear understanding of how to build resilient habits and a personalised plan to put them into action.


Resilience Week: 7 Days, 7 Classes.

20th-26th May

Challenge Includes:

A free Resilience Builder smoothie & Therapy visor

Entry into challenge prize draw after completion of 7 RunLift Classes.

Access all studios: Unlimited Hot Pilates & Yoga Fusion, Rhythm Cycle & RunLift Classes at Therapy for 7 days.