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On Your Will: How motivated are you to start?

EALD’s Dictionary defines willpower as the trait of resolutely controlling your own behavior. For a long time, I have made an assumption that willpower(strength of mind) is the same thing as self-discipline, only to recognize there is a clear cut difference, the latter being a companion.

Every day, we are faced by challenges between two versions of ourselves. To do or not, to pursue a goal or not to, to act now or wait, to buy fries or not, to go back to school or invest in business etc these can be termed as  the Willpower challenge and it happens to all of us.

‘Your own resolution to succeed is more important than anything else ‘ – Abraham Lincoln.

Your ability to bounce back after a setback makes a difference to whether you succeed or not.  Falling back or experiencing a setback can be a willpower drainer, but at the same time it can be a willpower builder.

How do we gain commitment? First, it is important that you review whether you are motivated enough to fully work on your set goals or not, by doing a Cost/Benefit analysis.

Analyze your motivation by asking yourself these questions

  • How important are my goals?
  • What are the benefits?
  • What is the price if I don’t?
  • Am I willing to make the effort?
  • Am I likely to achieve my goals?

On a scale of 1 to 10 rate yourself. If you score below seven, you probably don’t feel the goal is worth your effort or the goal is wrong or something else is going to hold you back, a foreseen external factor. An indicator you need to review your goals again.

Another important aspect is visualization which over time has been well-known to be a will power builder; it enhances and strengthens your will to do what it takes, and actually imagining failure augments it.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it..

Kelly McGonigal, in her book The Willpower Instinct illustrates a study done to assess willpower and what influences people in choosing which goals to pursue. A group of people are allowed to interview the future self, (You can create a 3D avatar to represent your future self. You can go on and ask a question like, ‘Hi Carol, what’s going on in your life right now?’)

After some time elapsed, these same people were brought back and mixed with other people and were put into a budgeting task. The people who had interacted with the future self ended up allotting more money for retirement. People who are closely related to the future self have more will power making them more committed and well motivated. Those who interact and live closely with their future self showed more will power, made more ethical decisions that work and saved more for their retirement. A variation of these exercise as explained by Kelly is writing a letter from future self thanking the present self for doing it, describing what you did and why it matters. Just as you would write a letter to a parent for what they offered as you were growing up.

A small intervention to tremendously improve your willpower involves these things.

  • Train your willpower physiology
  • Forgiving yourself
  • Making friends with the future self
  • Predict your failure – not too good to imagine
  • Surf the urge, when you get tempted

Building willpower is a key factor in leading a successful focused life where you set goals and work toward achieving them. Analyzing your will power helps you know which goals to drop and which to carry on. (Click here and read about an ingredient to add to your goal making endeavors)

Wishing you the best as you work on your willpower and don’t forget to share your challenges and successes on the comment section below.


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