Your enjoying yourself, making huge strides, then all of a sudden something changes. The 4 days your were dedicating to the gym fades to 3 then 2 and the next thing you know you are not going to the gym at all...what gives?
Willpower. We all have it. It drives us to make changes in our life. Pushes us to achieve new goals.
Willpower is a great gift. It can take us to new heights, new places both mentally and physically. It can make you to run that extra mile (literally and figuratively), make you finally face that one fear you have been trying to over come for so long.
But there is only one problem?
Willpower does not last forever. It fatigues. It can push you really far but not for infinite distances.
You see willpower is like a muscle. The more you use it the more it will fatigue. You can start strong but as time goes on your willpower eventually weakens to the point where you cannot push out one more rep.
Let's look at an example...
Ah...the New Year hits and it is time to get into shape. This is the year you are finally going to drop those stubborn 15 pounds and truly regain your health. You read about the latest diet craze that allowed Kim Kardashian to "slip back into her bikini" and decide thats the diet for you.
You make a trip to the grocery store, stock up on all the necessary foods, and hit the ground running.
Week 1 you are down 5 pounds and feeling incredible, week 2 passes and another 3 pounds lost. The end of week 3 rolls around and sure enough another 3 pounds. You deserve a treat right...pizza and ice cream sounds about right. One slip up is no biggie.
During the middle of week 4 you have to leave town for a few days. Hmmm...following that diet is going to be a little tricky. So you take a few days off. Can't hurt right?
Well a few days turns into a few weeks and the next thing you know you are back to your old ways. All that hard work and dedication you put in disappears and you are back to your old ways.
Your willpower fatigued.
Willpower took you out of the gates strong. You started seeing results. But the problem is that you did not build any habits along the way.
In a 100 meter sprint willpower will take habits almost every time. But in a marathon race habits will always prevail. Habits will always win.
Willpower can push you to number 15 when you are doing hill sprints but habits will make hill sprints a weekly ritual for years to come.
When habits are not established you can rest assured that the new nutrition plan, training program, or new business you are trying to grow will almost certainly fail. Your willpower that pushes you at first is going to fatigue. If you do not create habits to take the load off of your willpower failure is much more likely.
3 Tips to Build Habits vs Relying on Willpower
If you attack something with full force your willpower will quickly fade.
Instead of doing a complete diet overhaul start with small changes to your diet.
First you might eliminate as much sugar as possible. Slowly change that morning muffin into a healthy omelette. Before you know it your breakfasts will be uber healthy and you are not even thinking about it. It will become a habit.
2. Plan ahead.
If you leave it to the last minute your likely hood of making a bad decision goes way way up.
Sit down and think about that meals you are going to eat this week. Then go out, buy the healthy food, and prepare your meals as best you can.
Preparation and planning is one of the best tools you can use to turn willpower into a habit. The more you plan ahead the greater likely hood you have of sticking to a certain "thing" and eventually turning that "thing" into a habit.
3. Make commitments.
Do you think you will have more success if you tell yourself "I would like to lose 15 pounds" or if you tell yourself "I am going to lose 15 pounds"?
If you rely on your willpower to make the right decisions eventually that decision will be the wrong one. Relying on your willpower to go to the gym will lead to many missed days working out.
Instead, schedule your workout days...make the commitment instead of relying on making the right decision.
After a period of time scheduling a certain commitment, that commitment will turn into a habit and you will no longer find the need to schedule it...although it is still a good idea.
Willpower can take you distance in the short term. It can and will allow you to accomplishing new wonderful things.
But it fatigues. It grows weak over time.
Learn to establish habits. If it is a longterm goal, lifestyle, or dream is what you are after, habits will take to there. If you consistently rely on your willpower to always make the right decision rest assured the decision will eventually be the wrong one.
Live Your Best Life!