independent

Friday 23 February 2018

Don't rely on willpower to achieve goals

When people fail to sustain positive changes, they normally cite lack of willpower as the main reason. But is it?
When people fail to sustain positive changes, they normally cite lack of willpower as the main reason. But is it?

Calodagh McCumiskey - Wellbeing & Meditation

Many of us believe we would live a dream life if we had more of the magical substance called willpower.

It is defined as the ability to control yourself, or having strong determination that allows you to do something that is difficult for you.

With more will power we believe we could eat, sleep and exercise right, save money, not procrastinate, study harder, work effectively, take on new challenges and achieve and live the life we have always wished for. When people fail to sustain positive changes, they normally cite lack of willpower as the main reason for not following through.

But is it? Will power has a big part to play but how we design our day and our environment, how we deal with distraction and how we allow ourselves to be and feel all have a big part to play too.

We are all bombarded with a host of emotional, mental, and biological impulses throughout the day. And we all use will power every day. You opt for the healthy meal when you'd rather the burger and chips. You keep your mouth shut when someone says something that sets you off. You say no to the second helping.

But a little planning can minimise the pressure and maximise efforts. Here are some top tips to minimise the strain on your willpower and to help you realize your goals and dreams more easily.

1. If you are trying to develop a new habit or improve an area of your life, look at your beliefs and perceptions related to that area and try and change them. A number of years ago I gave up smoking. I started to love the idea of not smoking more than I ever loved smoking. I am still off them. It is often about flipping a switch in your head and making a choice and commitment.

2. Environment is key. If you are trying to lose weight, don't keep the foods that trigger you to over eat or eat unhealthily in your house.

3. If you are trying to change yourself, spend time with people that have the characteristics you want to develop. The change will come more naturally and easily.

4. Keep Distractions to a Minimum - if you have an important job to finish, stay away from the phone or social media until you get it done. Assign yourself a time later in the day to check them. It takes will power to ignore distractions. But your will power is not tested if there are no distractions.

5. Plan your day and schedule the tasks that need the most concentration and discipline in the morning or when you are at your best. Don't expect the best out of yourself when you are at your most tired or vulnerable

6. Fear - As they say, feel the fear but do it anyway.

7. Suppressing Feelings, takes its toll. When we bury our emotions we often find it more difficult to focus as we become disconnected from our own power. Within reason and when appropriate, let it out. Always be yourself.

8. Focus on long-term over short-term gain. Some time ago I asked the Happy Pear about their morning swim in the cold winter months. Me: 'Do you not find it cold?' HP: 'Of course we do but you feel so great afterwards'. They were focussed on the fantastic feeling that lasts most of the day and not the discomfort that last a few seconds.

So, if you want to make changes that last, set yourself up for success and plan changes that do not exclusively rely on willpower.

Fingal Independent

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