[THE PROBLEM WITH WILL POWER] -- 5 min read
Welcome to our “From the Fight” Blog. This week, we are talking about the [Problem with Will Power]. As a type 1 diabetic myself, I know the struggle of will power all too well. Before I was diagnosed with diabetes, my diet consisted of what most teenage boys eat: pizza, ice cream, soda, hot dogs, top ramen, etc. I ate like crap, but I didn’t see any consequences, so I didn’t think twice. That all changed when I got diabetes. EVERY food choice I made affected me one way or another. Eating foods like pizza and ice cream aren’t great for blood glucose levels. Thus, the struggle between my cravings and my will power to resist began. Spoiler alert: will power failed me.
In society, we are told mind over matter, will-power over weakness but let me ask you this: would you tell a drug addict that if they have strong “will-power,” that they can get through their addiction? My guess is that you wouldn’t tell that to a drug addict and you shouldn’t tell it to yourself either. Personal progress and achieving success are best approached like you’re overcoming addiction. This is because that’s is literally what you’re doing. As human-beings, we all have addictions. Maybe your addiction is food, laziness, social media, T.V., Netflix or even some darker things. To overcome these addictions, we need to stop relying on will power to do the job for us because it doesn’t work long term.
I will say that will power can work short term though. Have you ever started a diet, made it last a while, even lost some weight and felt great only to revert back to your old habits? We have all been there; you see success for a while, but it doesn’t seem to last. These short-term results, thanks to will power, are good for only that: short term. In fact, I would even argue that these short-term fixes make the strong holds of our addictions on us even stronger when we relapse back in to our old habits. When we rely on will power, we are most likely setting ourselves up for failure. Here’s why: will power is like a muscle. It’s a finite resource that depletes with use. As a result, by the end of your strenuous days, your willpower muscles are exhausted with zero control to stop the night cravings, time wasters or whatever it is you are trying to resist.
If you are still relying on will power to achieve your goals, here are some thought provoking questions I’d like to ask you:
1. Do you know what you want? Like what you REALLY want? (think deeply about this one)
2. Have you committed to getting what you want and to create a conducive environment that will lead to success?
Chances are, you either don’t have an answer to these questions for yourself or you might have an answer for one, but you don’t know the other.
So tell me what you want…
Many people struggle with figuring out what it is they actually want. For example, a previous client of mine said “I want to lose weight.” “Okay,” I replied, “that’s a good start.” But I told them to dig deeper; I asked “Why do you want to lose weight?” to which they replied, “I want to lose weight to gain more confidence in myself and feel healthier.” Now we were making progress. I kept asking a series of questions, basically asking, “Why? Why? Why?” Until we hit the jack pot: My client said, “I want to lose weight to gain confidence, and better manage my diabetes because I don’t want to die. If I continue down the road I’m on, I am going to die and that scares the crap out of me.”
Whoa, that was heavy. This client of mine knew EXACTLY what they wanted. Their “Why” was strong. If your life requires willpower, you haven’t fully determined what you want. After you decide what you want, the decision is made and the first step toward progress is complete. Once you decide, there is no going back (at least, that is what your mindset should be.)
Now for the hard part: Commitment.
After you figure out what you want, you’ve got to decide to commit to it. This is where a lot of people slip up. Many people can figure out what they want but the problem is that instead of committing to it, they use will power until it fails them. Commitment may seem like will power, but it is very different. When it comes to achieving goals, commitment involves:
· Investing upfront (this could be time, money, attention etc.)
· Make it public (post about it on social media, tell your friends and family)
· Set a deadline (a goal without a deadline isn’t a goal, it is a wish)
· Have several forms accountability (this could be a coach, a family member who will check in with you as much as you need--whatever you think you need.)
· Track your progress. (Not only will this keep you on track, it can be used as motivation and help you better reach your goals.)
· Remind yourself daily what you are working for. (You don’t just make a goal and never revisit it. You make a goal and remind yourself every day.)
· Remove or alter everything in your environment that opposes your commitment (if your environment sets you up for failure, you will fail. Set yourself up for success by creating an environment that ensures success.)
By doing these things, you are building external defense systems around your goals. That is what commitment is. So, are you serious about this? Or are you just talking? Are you still on the fence, or have you decided? Are you ready to commit?
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