Currently I’m reading an excellent book called “The One Thing – The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.
I am reading it so that I can learn how to focus better and get things done more efficiently. However, there are many good concepts that crossover for people on a health journey. I can’t stop thinking about the obstacles many of my clients face. Today the obstacle I’d like to cover is willpower…or at least the perceived lack of it in our own lives.
The definition of willpower is:
“Control exerted to do something or restrain impulses”
If it’s based on training it’s called discipline. When you work with me, I train you, and we build discipline. However, if you do things because you simply can, it is the power of your will. So let’s talk about why you may think you don’t have it…and I want to say right now…you do!
A lack of willpower is rooted in decision fatigue. How many times have you started your day thinking, today I’m going to get things done. I’m going to be disciplined. It’s going to be a good day – a new start. But then by the afternoon, you are reaching for the things you told yourself you wouldn’t eat, and then you end up staying up late when you promised yourself you would go to bed by 10pm?
This is because will power is a renewable energy, and it is strongest when you are rested. Stress and overwhelm lower willpower. If you feel as though you are not able to reach your goals due to a lack of willpower, I would like you to take a look at what taxes it during your day.
Implementing new behaviors
Trying to impress others
Coping with fear
Doing something you don’t enjoy
Select a long-term over short term rewards
As the authors of the book note, each of these behaviors are similar to taking an ice pick and gouging a hole in our gas line. Before long we have willpower leaking everywhere and none left to do our most important work.
Their suggestion is to not fight it. Manage your days and focus on what is important when you know your willpower will be at its strongest. Take a look at the things that are taxing you during the day. Sometimes even just being mindful can make an impact, and with work and self awareness, you can alleviate the source.