Thursday, August 8, 2013

Building Up Your Willpower; 10 Tips For Following Through

What you have to do and the way you have to do it is incredibly simple. Whether you are willing to do it, that’s another matter. Peter F. Drucker.


We all know what it is.  Its that mythical magical pill that gets your butt up and makes all of your dreams come true.  The truth is, WILLPOWER is a muscle, that just like any other muscle, you have to build, develop, and strengthen it to get the most out of it.  Just like any other muscle in your body, your willpower will weaken through the day depending on which circumstances you find yourself in.

Here are 10 great ways to practice building up your willpower each and every day.

1.  Set goals for yourself.  If your goal is to lose weight, to quit smoking, or to make more money, you have to set clear goals for yourself.  The best goal setting method is the SMART goals.
 You need to decide what your goal is specifically.  When you will accomplish it by.  What you will do to accomplish it.  And add in how you will feel emotionally when you complete this goal.
For example, instead of saying "I want to lose weight" a better goal would be "I will lose 10 pounds by November 1st by eating clean and working out 4 days a week, and I will feel AMAZING."  By setting your goals with the SMART method, you are making a plan instead of stating a desire.  This will increase your likelihood of accomplishing this goal.

2.   Make difficult choices in advance.  If you're having trouble making conscious decisions while going about your day, you need to decide early on what would be the best choice for your goal.  If your goal is to lose weight, and you find yourself struggling every day when it come times to chose what you eat for lunch, you're more likely to make an unhealthy choice.  If you decide that each day you will have the same lunch, a salad from your local deli, you have taken away the stress from making the decision.
  A good way to do this is by using the If/Then strategy.
IF I am offered a piece of cake at the birthday party, THEN I will decline and have a piece of fruit.
IF there are doughnuts in the lunchroom, THEN I will say NO THANK YOU, and choose Greek yogurt.
By making these choices in advance, you are removing the stress from a situation that is likely to pull away from your willpower.

3. Don't make choices when your willpower is low.  This is a simple statement that is sometimes difficult.  If your goal is weight loss, to increase your willpower, don't go grocery shopping when you're tired, hungry, or stressed.  If you want to work out more, don't plan to go to the gym after work when your body is tired and sore.  When you leave these difficult decisions to the time of day when your willpower is at its lowest, you are more likely to make poor decisions and avoid progress.

4.  Use the 5 MINUTE RULE when attempting something that you would usually avoid doing.  If you want to exercise more, decide when you will start, and commit to only 5 minutes.  I decided this morning I would spend 5 minutes on this blog, and here I am 2 hours later with PAGES of notes.  When you commit to doing something for 5 minutes, its easier to start, and you tend to get so involved with it that you continue to do it long past the 5 minute mark.

5. Be accountable for your actions.  If you decide to work out, but don't tell anyone about it, then you are more likely to NOT go through with it.  If you tell someone your SMART goal, then you are much more likely to accomplish that goal because you will be held accountable for it.  The best way to be accountable is by having a partner.  Work out with a buddy, diet with a coworker at lunch, hire a coach, or if you're an avid internet user, use the website Stickk

6. You also need to BURN THE SHIPS.  In 1519, Hernan Cortez set off on a journey from Spain to South America with the goal to conquer the land and attain mass amounts of gold.  When he arrived on the shores of the beaches, and all 600 men were on the ground, he ordered them to burn the ships.  He did this because it took away their ability to give up and committed them 100% to their mission.
  Removing temptation for failure is always going to be a big boost into improving your willpower.  For me, my distraction is Facebook.  (If you know me, that is not a surprise!)  Now I use the app StayFocusd to avoid the temptation of Facebook while I am working.  I use the Nuclear Option to shut off access to distracting websites while I work.  If your temptation is Ice Cream, take it out of the house.  If your temptation is smoking, avoid being around smokers.  When you remove temptation and distraction, you give yourself more time to achieve your goal.  By changing the route you take home, you can avoid that fast food that you usually stop and get.   Removing temptation and distraction is the best way to increase your success when your willpower is low.

7.  Meditate.  I know this is my solution for everything, but when your willpower is low, and you are just overly stressed, it is a great way to refocus on what you want.  By calming your mind, its like you're getting a reset to start over with your decision making.  If you haven't started yet, you need to start meditating TODAY.  Take 5-15 minutes in a quite comfortable place and really let your thoughts settle like the white stuff in a snow globe.   To read my blog on Meditation please CLICK HERE.

8.  Tackle the difficult tasks first.  When you wake up, your willpower is at its all time highest, and you are more willing to tackle the hardest obstacles of the day.  Every morning when you wake up, make a point to do the 2-3 most difficult tasks of the day first.  If you struggle to do laundry, work out, grocery shop, or clean your house, the best thing to do is do it first thing in the morning.  Once you tackle the most difficult parts of your day, the rest of your day will be easier, and it will become easier for you to make progressive decisions later.   Pareto's Law says that 20% of your efforts will improve the other 80% of your life.  If you tackle the most difficult 20% of your day in the morning, the other 80% of your day will be a breeze.  Put all of your efforts into doing the BEST you can for that 20% and watch your life change.

9.  Create Daily Rituals.  When you have daily habits, routines, and rituals it removes the need for minimal decisions, and increases your stock of willpower for the day.  Just like getting up in the morning and brushing your teeth, showering, getting dressed, and making a cup of coffee, when you create habits in your daily life, they no longer become decisions.  Repeating good behavior creates a habit, just like repeating bad behavior creates a habit.  If your goal is to exercise more, do it every day, at the same time, until it becomes a habit, and you no longer have to make the decision to do it.

10.  Remember that nothing is EASY.  Increasing your willpower will not make it easy to succeed.  I am only telling you that anything is POSSIBLE, and with enough determination, willpower, and education, you can achieve any goal you set your mind to.  Once, there was a little boy who looked at the moon and said "One day, I want to go there" and he did.  There is not a goal you could this of that is unattainable, as long as you set your mind to reaching it.  When you put your mind to it, anything is possible.

AIM HIGH!  Where there's a will, there's a way!

Peace, Happiness, and Success
The Happiest Woman Alive

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