If you want to get things done, you need willpower. Learn three strategies to enhance your willpower.
Some people are born achievers. The Enneagram of Personality shows us that these individuals are naturals at mustering the willpower to get things done. However, the rest of the nine personality types can still meet goals and achieve the same levels of performance. We just need to increase our mental currency. So, here’s how to do it.
Amplify Your Willpower
1. Willpower Is Like Money in a Bank Account
Willpower is like money in a bank account. It has a limited supply. On any day, you have only so much to spend. If you are like most people, you have things to do. And you have goals and dreams to accomplish. You want to increase your willpower to help keep you on track. Willpower is a valuable mental currency. It provides the focus to reach goals. So, most people want to increase it.
For example, the goal is to live a healthy lifestyle. This involves eating the right diet and exercising daily. To accomplish this requires willpower. It requires eating healthy foods. Sometimes the foods that taste the best aren’t healthy. So you must either pack a healthy lunch or go to a restaurant that serves the type of food supporting your diet. You also plan to go to the gym after work to exercise.
These are good plans. You know from experience you need to plan lunch. Otherwise, you may eat things you shouldn’t like pizza. When you fail to eat the right type of lunch, then you are less likely to go to the gym.
So, when you stick to your plan and resist the temptation, this is a deposit into the willpower bank. Thus, enabling you to be more likely to go to the gym. Making a deposit increases the likelihood of making more deposits. This reinforces the goal of living a healthy lifestyle. The greater your bank account, the stronger you are in resisting temptations.
Then at some point, you fail to stay on track. No big deal. You have willpower reserves to keep you from being over critical. Because when you beat yourself up for failing, chances are you’ll continue to fail. That’s why you need to amplify your willpower.
2. Willpower Is Like a Muscle
Muscles will grow stronger if you subject them to the right amount of resistance. Willpower is like a muscle. You will encounter resistance to whatever goal you have set. However, by pushing back against the resistance, you grow stronger. This enables you to take on greater challenges.
The above example of planning and resisting the temptation to eat pizza for lunch applies here too. By planing and eating a healthy lunch, it builds the strength of your willpower. The resistance is the temptation to eat pizza for lunch.
The resistance may show up after work. After a long day, you are tired. It’s hard to go to the gym when you are tired. So, this may require a withdrawal from our willpower reserve. This is a challenge that will come up again each day.
It’s important to remember you’ll have opportunities throughout the day to make deposits and withdrawals, to build or deplete your willpower. Above all, project thoughts with hope and allow yourself to become vulnerable. Open your eyes to social injustice. Learn to live a courageous life. Facing this resistance helps to amplify your willpower.
It’s important to set short-term or incremental goals that are realistic and within reach. Much like muscles, if you set the goal too high you won’t be able to meet the challenge. If the goal or challenge is too large, and you fail to meet them, instead of building muscle and getting stronger, lofty goals can become a source of discouragement. Thus, degrading your willpower. That doesn’t mean you should not have big dreams, it just means you need to break them down into small goals. This brings us to the next observation.
3. Attitude Affects Willpower
There is an important connection between attitude, emotions, and willpower. The ability to turn down pizza for lunch is one example. Sometimes the connection is not obvious. But there is a significant link here. A stressful day at work can affect attitude and emotions. This weakens your willpower and you give in to the temptation to have pizza for lunch, which then leads to not going to the gym.
The first and most important thing to remember is that we all fail. So, we get off track. So, put things in perspective. Start again. Start over again. Affirmations are a good tactic to help keep your attitude from becoming a pessimistic downward spiral. However, be sure you plant them into good ground. Here’s an Affirmations Playbook to assist with managing your thought life. Practice self-care and exercises to increase your personal power.
The key is being “present” enough to realize what’s going on with your attitude and emotions and making the course correction necessary. Even if you’ve given in, and have pizza for lunch, which will happen because we are all human and are apt to fail. However, you can still make it a win for your willpower by finding the strength to go to the gym. Or, if you have a bad day and eat pizza and fail to go to the gym, don’t beat yourself up. Start over again the next day.
A pattern of unmet goals likely results from unhealthy patterns of behavior. So, short-term stretch goals are a good strategy to help get back on track. If you can’t make it all week without pizza, then try making it for at least three days. After you make it three days, next week set the goal for four days. Then stretch it to ten days and so on… This strategy works for any objective. It reinforces a good attitude toward meeting goals while increasing willpower.
Your willpower is money in a bank account. And you have goals and dreams to accomplish. So, you need to have as much of this mental currency as possible. Learn how to amplify your willpower, and you’ll be able to meet the goals you set.
It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t… It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not. — James Gordon
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia