Will Power. What thoughts do those two words bring to mind? If your first reaction was ‘yeah, I wish I had that’ or ‘ugh, I don’t know how people have it’ you are definitely not alone.
Will Power is very similar in nature to the myth of Motivation (see previous post) yet somehow it seems even grander and more elusive! Will Power is truly a ‘thing’… a powerful, all encompassing attribute that one was either blessed with, or not. But is that really the case? The simple answer… no!
The easiest way to look at Will Power (again, very much like Motivation) is commitment or dedication to an outcome. Another way to view it is simply taking the steps to form good habits in place of bad. How many times have you been out with that one friend (you know, the one who was blessed with enough Will Power for everyone) and watched them say ‘no thank you’ to the tray of desserts while you take two at each pass? How about the times they leave happy hour early stating they have to be at the gym bright and early while you hang out for hours then wonder why you can’t get up for work? Annoying right? I mean, how do they do it?! Well, I’ll tell you how…
They set a goal! And that goal was important to them… important enough to elicit a response that disrupts the status quo. It could have been to get in shape, to lose weight, to improve their endurance or maybe even get a better check up with the doctor and improve blood work. Whatever the goal, they realized that they would never reach that goal by repeating the same behavior and staying in their comfort zone. So they made changes… those changes are the actions you see and think ‘wow, how do they do that?”
Easy enough, just set a goal and make different choices! Awesome… IF you’re one of the blessed ones, right? Sorry, nope. Of course there are people out there who are naturally a little better at making good choices, but that is not to say they are capable and you are not. You can make the right choices, you just don’t because let’s face it… it’s easier to keep doing things the same way you always have! Easier yes, but it won’t change those habits or help you reach your goals.
So to help understand how to conjure up your own elusive Will Power, we’re going to take a very quick look at human nature. Human beings are very impatient and typically have a short attention span. We want what we want and we want it NOW! So we decide we want to lose weight, opt for a salad instead of a burger and fries at lunch one day then eagerly head home to jump on the scale. When it hasn’t changed, we throw our arms in the air claiming there’s no point, we just don’t have the Will Power!!! We also figure that if we change everything all at once, that will surely work better than if we changed one little thing at a time. Same scenario as above but we change each meal AND hit the gym hard for the first time in years… same results. Ever been there?
Habits take time to make and/or break. Creating a new habit typically takes at least 2 weeks of consistency and when you’re looking at breaking a bad habit and replacing it with a good one, that could double. Trying to rush that process or taking on too much too soon can cause overwhelm and frustration. So that friend we spoke of earlier, they didn’t just wake up one morning, hit the early gym class and stop eating sweets. They took those steps one at a time until each decision got easier and easier to make. Soon, planning their time around their early morning workout wasn’t an effort anymore, it became automatic. Saying no to the dessert tray also became an automatic response in place of conscious decision.
Still think you can’t do it? I’ve got a challenge for you. With the Holidays and New Year fast approaching, pick one thing that might arise and prompt you to wish you had the Will Power to avoid it. Did you pick one? Ok, now set your goal. It could be one less glass of wine with dinner. Not going back for seconds of your Grandma’s famous pie. Whatever it is, set that goal and repeat it to yourself over and over. Make sure it’s something you can actually accomplish and then… do it! Once you realized you’ve lived through the process of saying no or attaining that one small goal, pat yourself on the back and introduce yourself to your friend Will Power!
Next step… set another goal, rinse and repeat! Once you get a taste of success and realize how easy it can be, creating new habits and employing the Will Power to achieve them will become addicting. I can definitely think of far worse addictions!
If you’re up for the challenge and would like some extra accountability, respond to this email or post in the comments with the goal you set. Allowing someone else in on your plan helps set it in stone. So, let’s make our Holiday date with Will Power and get after those goals together before we hit the new year!